Craft Blog  

This is an opportunity to discuss what is happening in the craft industry and share some of my knowledge gathered over the many years of operating a craft business. You may even learn a tip or two. Leave a comment on any of the topics that are being discussed. We all can learn from each other. Healthy discussion/comments are encouraged; rude, disrespectful, spam or advertising comments may be deleted without notice to you. 

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Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Nov 18 2015

Pumpkin Muffins

Make 12 standard-size muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Prehead oven to 350 and line muffin pan with liners. In medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk together.

2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

3. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each insertion.

4. Add pumpkin puree and vanilla to butter mixture and mix well. 

5. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Will have some lumps.

6. Divide batter evenly in muffin pans and bake in pre-heated oven for 18-22 minutes. Should have a few crumbs when toothpick is inserted.

 



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Apple Cider Cookies

Oct 25 2015


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped apple (peeled)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combined all the dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, cream sugar and butter well and then add egg and beat until fluffy. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in the pecans, raisins, apples and 1/4 cup apple cider.

Using a heaping tablespoon and set 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes and cool on wire rack.



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Homemade Apple Cider Jelly

Sep 24 2015

Apply Cider Jelly by My Lovi Country Crafts & CollectiblesApple jelly is a two-step process, compared to a jam, but still very easy to make. Here is how I did it. Make 8 jars

Ingredients:
6 pounds apples (I used Macs and Cortlands)
6 cups apple cider (try to get it unpasturized)
1 box powdered pectin
7 cups granulated sugar
Cheesecloth
 
 
1.  Wash apples and cut into medium pieces (I do not peel or core). Add to large pot and cover with apple cider.  Simmer on medium heat until apples are soft. Line large/deep bowl with cheesecloth that has already been soaked and rung out. I usually use binder clips to hold the cheesecloth onto the bowl. Carefully empty the apples and cider onto the cheesecloth and let drain undisturbed for a few hours. DO NOT RING IT OUT.

2. Take your 5 cups of liquid (if a little short, add water) and add your box of pectin. Whisk so that the pectin is desolved into the liquid. Bring liquid to a rapid boil and then add the sugar all at one. Stir until desolved and bring up to a rapid boil again. Boil for 1 minute and remove from heat. 

3. Place liquid into clean 8-ounce jars and process. I usually flip them over on their lids for 5 minutes and then flip right side again. 



Filed Under: Piece of Cake,This and That
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Transferring Image onto Fabric

Sep 10 2014

Select a graphic you’d like to print. Base your decision on whether or not your printer supports color.

  • Consider how the graphic will transfer to the fabric and whether you want something relatively small or a graphic that will fill the entire fabric sheet. 
  • Keep in mind that photos may change resolution and size during the transfer process.

Cut a piece of fabric to 8 ½ x 11 inches. You’ll want the fabric to be the same size as the paper you use in your printer.

  • Consider using fabric that is 100% cotton, like a 200 count muslin for best transfer results. The ink will pop and be brighter with the right fabric. 
  • Make sure you trim rough or frayed fabric edges so they don’t get caught in your printer. Not only could this ruin your project, loose thread inside your printer could damage its mechanism.

Cut a piece of freezer paper to the same size as your fabric, 8 ½ x 11 inches.You will essentially be “marrying” the two together so they need to be the exact same size.

  • When purchasing freezer paper, make sure it says “freezer” on the box. Don't confuse wax paper with freezer paper, which is a common problem. 
  • Cut enough sheets at the same time to complete all the fabric in the project.

Iron the freezer paper to the fabric. This will join the freezer paper and fabric together, allowing both to pass through your printer.

  • Set iron on the highest setting. The high heat will easily bind the fabric to the freezer paper, but work quickly and carefully so as not to burn the fabric. 
  • Press fabric to the shiny side of the freezer paper. Gently press down on the iron as you smooth it over the fabric. Be sure you run the iron over each edge to ensure each side is joined together. 
  • Iron on a smooth, flat surface for best results. If your ironing board has bumps, consider using a thin towel placed on a heat resistant countertop as a makeshift ironing board.

Inspect fabric and trim thread before placing it in the printer. Even though you may have trimmed the thread already, the ironing process may have produced more fringe.

  • Use sharp, fabric scissors to trim paper/fabric. Inspect the paper/fabric to ensure it is still stuck together.

Place fabric sheet in your printer tray. Keep in mind which side will print on the fabric.

  • Conduct a test run, if necessary, by placing an “x” on one side of a scrap sheet of paper, running it through the printer and seeing which side gets printed. 
  • Conduct a test run with the image until you are satisfied. Unless you have multiple sheets of fabric/freezer transfers, play with your printer’s settings until you are satisfied with the outcome.

Credit to: http://www.wikihow.com/Print-on-Fabric-Using-Freezer-Paper



Filed Under: How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country
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Strawberry Jam

Jun 08 2014

Strawberry Jam

Strawberries, lemon juice, pectin and sugar combine to make traditional strawberry jam. 

Ingredients:
5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 lbs)
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 Tbsp pectin
7 cups granulated sugar
8 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions:
PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside. 


COMBINE strawberries and lemon juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that can not be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.

ADD entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

LADLE hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

To process flip the jars over and set your timer for 5 minutes. When time is up, flip back over right side. Cool and Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Makes about 8 half-pint jars.



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Homemade Ice Coffee Concentrate

Apr 30 2014

Ice Coffee Recipe by My LoviAs a lover of really great coffee, with the temperatures now on the rise, it is getting to the time for me to switch from the "hot" to the "cold" version of my favorate beverage. I always say that this concentrate is only as good as the coffee you use, but it is still much more economical than grabbing one at your favorite coffee shop all the time. I figured it is about the cost of 1-2 purchases, but you get what you want and nothing yucky added. This recipe will make a week's worth, unless you drink A LOT of iced coffee. Then it is probably in your best interest to make your own anyway.

Ingredients:
1 pound of your favorite ground coffee
8 cups of cool water

Stir together coffee and water. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain through a coffee filter or cheesecloth-lined sieve into a container, pressing on the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Store in the refrigerator, covered.

Dilute 1 part concentrate with 1 to 2 parts cold water or milk. Sweeten as desired and serve over ice. Enjoy!!

Additional tip: Coffee ice cubes chill your drink and keep it full-strength.  Great way to use up all the coffee in your pot.



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What is your Craft Pricing Model?

Apr 23 2014

Craft Pricing Diagram by My LoviWith the new year in full swing, I am revisiting the prices for all the products that I have on my website. Not that I will automatically go up in price, but to review cost of materials (which do go up), overhead and also I might want to give myself a raise.

I do not charge differently for the same product when I am at a show or on the website. The only difference between the two is that the website order will have shipping charges. Even shipping charges have to be monitored because it does affect your costs.

How do you know if you are being fair to your customers and of course to yourself? Even if you are selling your products at shows, you really are part of a community of craftsman and artisans that rely on their products as a source of income. So DON’T UNDER CUT THEM. I see this a lot at shows that I attend. Unfortunately, even at shows that I am a vendor. With craftsmen just “selling their goods”, it really hurts the rest of us who want to make a go of it.

So as a very basic rule of thumb about pricing your crafts:
1. Overhead + Materials + Labor + Profit = Wholesale Price
2. Wholesale Price x Markup = Retail Price

When you sell your work wholesale, retailers will mark it up at least two times, but the average is between 2.3-2.5 times. This allows the retailer to make enough money to make a profit on the sale. Notice that a profit for the artist (yes, YOU) is also written into the formula.

If you don’t give yourself a profit, you won’t have the funds to try a new technique, new medium or expand your business. You can’t use your labor cost as that, because you can’t (shouldn’t) work for free.

I do not get upset when people say, I can buy “such and such” at the local big box store for 1/4th of what you are charging. I feel that the customer doesn’t realize that the big box stores are usually not carrying handcrafted pieces. They usually purchase their stock from overseas, via distributors where profit and labor costs are nowhere near what we have in the USA.

So begin reviewing your prices and see what you should be charging. You may be amazed.



Filed Under: What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts,The Long and Winding...Craft Road
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Hot Cross Buns

Apr 09 2014

Hot Cross Buns on My Lovi websiteA staple during the Easter holiday are these delicious Hot Cross Buns. Even before the great Medieval expansionism of religion and ceremony into almost every part of everyday life, marking baked goods (like breads, buns and cakes) with the sign of a cross was a common thing for a baker to do. The cross was said to ward off evil spirits which could affect the bread, and make it go mouldy or stale, so bakers used it, and customers looked for it. 

 

Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 (1/4 ounce) packages)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus as needed
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (13 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup currants, plumped in the microwave and cooled
1 egg beaten, for brushing
For the icing/glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon finely gated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
Combine the water and milk in a medium saucepan and warm over low heat until about 100 degrees F (but no more than 110 degrees). Remove from heat and sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar and flour over the surface of the liquid. Set aside without stirring, until foamy and rising up the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Whisk the butter, egg yolk and vanilla into the yeast mixture.

Whisk the flour, the remaining sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon to make a thick, shaggy, and slightly sticky dough. Stir in currants. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft and elastic, about 8 minutes. Shape into a ball.

Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter. Put dough in bowl, turning to coat lightly with butter. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour 30 minutes. (If you have a marker, trace a circle the size of the dough on the plastic, and note the time to help you keep track.)

To form the rolls: Butter a 9 by 14-inch baking pan. Turn the dough out of the bowl and pat into a rectangle about 16 by 8 inches. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, about 2 ounces each, with a pizza wheel or bench scraper. (If you don't have a scale, divide the dough in half lengthwise, then in half crosswise. Cut each of those four sections into 3 equal-sized rolls.)

Tuck the edges of the dough under to make round rolls and place them seam-side down in the prepared pan, leaving a little space in between each roll. Cover the pan with buttered plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the rolls rise almost to the rim of the pan and have more than doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Remove the plastic wrap and brush the tops of the buns with beaten egg. Bake rolls until golden brown and puffy, and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the rolls registers 190 degrees F, about 25 minutes.

For the glaze: Stir together confectioners' sugar, milk, lemon zest and vanilla until smooth. Transfer icing to a zip bag or pastry bag, and make a small cut in the corner of the bag. Ice buns in a thick cross shape over the top of the warm buns.

Recipe from Food Network



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Shipping Damages

Mar 21 2014

Picture of a damaged boxThis is a great and informative article posted on The Crafts Report, by Donald Clark, about who is responsible when a gallary sends back your work and it is damaged in shipping. Is it the responsibility of the gallery or the shipping company; and how should one proceed to recoop damages. 

In addition, before you place your work with a gallery, spend the time to reseach them and inquire with other artist to see how they are treated. Like everything in business, there are good ones and not so good one.

For complete article posted on The Crafts Report



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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Santa Spoon

Dec 04 2013


Santa SpoonThings you will need:

1 – Wood Spoon
1 – 1/2" metal eye screw
1 – White Felt Square
1 – Rusty Tin Star or anything other embellishment you would like to use
1 – Holiday fabric 4”x12”
1 – Unfinished Wood Furniture Button
Delta Creamcoat Acrylic Paint – AC Flesh, Black, Barn Red
Thick Curly Yarn
Ultimate Tacky Glue
Rusty Star (1”)

Scissors
Paint Brushes and Accessories

Instructions:
1. Take your wooden spoon and paint the “scoop section” of the spoon with the AC Flesh color paint and let it dry. Add the eye screw at top to use as a hanger.
2. Paint the wood button with Barn Red paint. Let dry and set aside.
3. Next, sew the fabric length and slide it down the spoon.
4. Cut one 3/4″ width by 4″ length strip and one 1″ width by 2″ length strip from the white felt square.
5. Glue the 3/4″ width by 4″ length felt strip at the bottom of the towel and glue the 1″ width by 2″ length felt strip on the top of the towel. Glue on any embellishments you desire (I used a small rusty tin star).
6. Glue on the painted furniture button on as Santa’s nose.
7. Paint on eyes with the black paint. Paint the end of the Santa’s nose and rosy cheeks with the Red paint.
8. Finally, wrap the curly yarn around your hand about 6 times (more depending on the fullness desired), then slip off your hand and cut each end of the bundle. Cut an extra piece and tie it through the yarn to create a knot and will securely hold the yarn. Carefully glue the beard onto the spoon right beneath Santa’s nose.



Filed Under: How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country
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Canning Jar Ring Pumpkins

Oct 29 2013


Canning Jar PumpkinsSupply List:

20 Regular mouth canning lids

Orange Spray Paint (Krylon Spay paint)

3-4 Cinnamon Sticks

Orange Yarn (or string that you spray paint orange)


Directions
1. Start by spray painting the lids on each side till they are covered to your liking. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the rings to dry.

2.String the lids onto the yarn. Be sure to have all the lids facing the same the direction.

3. Tie the yarn very tightly

4. Fan rings into desired pumpkin shape.

5.Place the Cinnamon sticks in the center to create the pumpkin stem and allow for a cinnamon scent.

You can use your imagination and paint these pumpkins gold or white paint. Let your creativity loose! Happy Fall Y’all!

Note: If you want to make larger pumpkins, you can use the wide-mouth lids. Just follow the same directions.

Credits: http://just2sisters.com/mason-jar-ring-crafts-fall-pumpkin/



Filed Under: This and That,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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How to Clean Fruits & Vegetables With Vinegar

May 02 2013

Every year, nearly 48 million people fall ill from food contamination, including sickness caused by fruits and vegetables. Animals, dangerous substances in soil and water, poor hygiene of food employees and several other circumstances can lead to contamination. To avoid this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends washing produce thoroughly. Cleaning produce with vinegar helps kill bacteria to ensure your fruits and vegetables are safe for consumption.


Smooth-Skinned Produce
Keeping a blend of vinegar and water at a 1 to 3 ratio in a spray bottle makes cleaning smooth-skinned produce easier. Use the spray bottle to mist the fruit or vegetable, thoroughly coating its exterior with the vinegar solution. Allow the produce to rest for 30 seconds before rubbing its surface and rinsing it under cold, running water. This removes all vinegar taste. The FDA recommends cleaning smooth-skinned fruits and vegetables by gently rubbing them with your hands instead of an abrasive scrubber. This prevents you from breaking the skin before the fruit or vegetable is completely clean, which could expose the flesh to contaminants. Tomatoes, apples and grapes are examples of smooth-skinned produce.

Rough- or Firm-Surfaced
Broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, melons, potatoes, berries and other produce without a smooth or soft surface are slightly more difficult to clean. They require a soaking in a 1 to 3 vinegar and water mixture. This ensures the acidic blend kills all bacteria. For heads of cabbage or other greens, you will need to separate the individual leaves for thorough cleaning. This can be a bit impractical at times, but if you use your sink as the container for the water and vinegar mixture, you should have plenty of room. After their soak, scrub the vegetables with a brush and rinse them under running water.

Other Precautions
To stay safe when cleaning fresh fruits and vegetables, always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling them. Also, thoroughly wash any surface they touched, including knives and cutting boards. Never cut or peel fruits and vegetables before washing them, as this can contaminate the flesh. Always dry produce with a clean cloth and cut away damaged areas before serving. When working with cabbage and lettuce, discard the outer leaves but do not fail to wash the inner leaves.

Reposted from: sfgate.com http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/clean-fruits-vegetables-vinegar-8777.html 



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Curtains from Tablecloths

Apr 08 2013

Curtains from TableclothsHaving just completed making two sets of drapes for my son's apartment in NYC, I read a blog post about using tablescloths for the fabric. I easily found out that I could have bought enough fabric to make both sets of drapes for his windows for about $50 instead of the $161 dollars I spent in the fabric store. Granted, I still had to buy the blackout liner, but still that was only $9.99 a yard.

If you are going to do this, purchase a quality tablecloth; it makes all the difference in the world, since at some point you are going to have to clean them. The best part is that tablecloths are already hemmed all around, so one step is done for you.

I needed two sets of 60" wide panels and a lot of tablecloths come in that width. His windows are 6 feet long (have to love the pre-war apartments), so you can purchase a 96" long tablecloth.

Now measured how long you want the curtains and sewed the top over with a straight stitch to make a rod pocket. Now just hang them on the rod. It should take less than 15 minutes and is so incredibly easy. I don't know why I hadn't thought of this before, plus they should launder really well.



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Make Your Own Seed Tape

Apr 07 2013

Seed Tape from Toilet Paper

It’s difficult to space tiny seeds, such as carrots, in the garden. The best way to solve this problem is to make homemade seed tape. Here’s how to do it:

1. Unroll a strip of toilet paper on a table (double ply works best), mist it with a sprayer, and place the seeds along the center of the strip. Be sure to space the seeds based on the seed packet’s recommendation. Tip: Alternate carrot seeds with radish because when the radishes sprout, they help to mark the row and break the ground.

2. Starting along the strip’s long edge, fold a third of the paper over the seeds, then fold the other third over to cover the seeds completely. Lightly tamp the paper, misting it again to secure the seeds. Make as many of these strips as you need. Then carefully carry them to the garden.

3. Make shallow furrows in the prepared soil, lay the strips down, and cover them. In a jiffy, your small seeds will be planted and perfectly spaced.

Source: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/best-seed-tape-ever



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Cake Pops - National Something on a Stick Day - March 28h

Mar 04 2013

Cake PopsCake pops are a really easy and fun alternative to cupcakes. They are so easy, that they are fun to do with kids.

There are a number of recipes out there and even "baking" pans/makers. But honestly, you don't need any of those gadgets.

The first thing I do is make and bake a cake in a sheet pan and then crumble it all up in a large bowl after it has baked and cooled. I personally make my cakes from scratch, but if you want to use a mix, that fine. Once you have a nice bowl of cake crumbs, add a little frosting at a time until the entire mixture holds together. A lot of recipes call to use the frosting in a tub or can, but I think that frosting adds an aftertaste to the pops. All you have to do is make a very simple butter frosting and you are good to go.

Then use your hands to mix so it doesn't get too mushy as it would if you were to use a mixer. Next take a small ice cream scoop to make even cake balls. As you scoop each ball, roll them in your hands to get them nice and round. Put balls on a lined baking sheet and freeze. I usually put the sticks in after they have set a bit (not rock hard) but I have also omitted the sticks and made cake "balls".

Now melt your chocolate and dip away. You don't have to refreeze the pops after you dip them, since the pops are usually cold enough to set the chocolate.

Happy baking!



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Irish Soda Bread - the REAL deal!

Feb 27 2013

Irish Soda Bread by My Lovi - Country Crafts and CollectiblesI have to admit, there is a lot of buzz going around about what is the real deal with Soda Bread. March being the month for all things Irish, I did some reseach into this and concluded that true Irish Soda Bread should not have yeast, butter, sugar, eggs, nuts, or seeds. So with that,  you would think how can it really taste all that great?

Well, I decided to make it and see for myself. I didn't add seeds to my recipe and I made it out of white flour (this picture is of my finished loaf). Many suggest you can use wheat, or a mixture of both white and wheat, but I am not much of a fan of wheat flour, so I made it out of all white flour (unbleached).

According to Rory O'Connell (sounds very Irish), who trained at Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry, East Cork, Ireland, says that there are only 4 ingredients in soda bread. Flour, Baking Soda, Salt and Buttermilk. 

Sounded easy enough, so I followed the recipe (see below). I use really good buttermilk which I can get Kate's at my local supermarket (local in southern Maine). I love this brand since it isn't lowfat or nonfat. It is a really good, full-bodied/flavored buttermilk. If you only have 4 ingredients, make sure they are the best quality.

I have put my pictures of each step of the way as I made this (see below). The dough came together in the amount of time it took for my oven to preheat (might have even been quicker). So really fast!

Irish Soda Bread (White)

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking-soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly flour baking sheet. (I use parchment paper).

Mix flour, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix in enough buttermilk to form moist clumps (pic 1). Gather dough into ball. Turn out onto lightly flour surfaced and knead just until dough holds together, about 1 minute (pic 2).

Shape dough into 6-inch-diameter by 2-inch-high round. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cut 1-inch-deep X across top of bread, extending almost to edges (pic 3). Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes (pic 4). Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.

My husband was a bit leary about how it would taste since it only had those four ingredients. I should have taken a picture of the expression he gave me when I told him I was making this bread. But I can tell you, the finished product was FANTASTIC!!! So, so, so simple to make.  Whip up a loaf to go with your "Irish" meal. Happy Baking!!!

                    Pic 1                                             Pic 2                                               Pic 3                                                           Pic 4



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Homemade Pop Tarts - Really?

Feb 20 2013


Well, I had to give it a try. I am probably the only person in the world who doesn’t care for “Pop Tarts”, so when I found a homemade recipe for them, I said it could only be better. I think this recipe made fabulous pop tarts, but as my husband said, they taste nothing like the original. So in my book, it is a win. Really, dry pastry in a box is good??? These are much better.

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour. I love all of their products. Their flour is wonderful and consistent in quality. I great buy if you can get it.

This recipe makes about 9 pop tarts and it is a bit of work for just 9, but well worth it.

I measured all the ingredients and set them aside. I like to weigh my dry ingredients, especially flour so it isn’t heavy. The butter is always put in the freezer (makes it flakier) so that it is really cold when I combine it with the dry ingredients. I find using a really good food processor, makes short work of mixing, but I use the “pulse” button, don’t let it just run.

 

You want the dough to be the consistency of cornmeal. This is what mine looked like just before I added the egg. It took about 2 minutes to get to this stage. I then added the egg and pulsed for an additional 2-3 seconds.




I then divided my dough into 2 parts and put in the frig to chill, while I made homemade apple filling. It was snowing in Maine when I did this project and apples…dough sounded good.

I followed the directions from King Arthur Flour for the pastry portion by making a large rectangle. It is great to work on the back of a half sheet pan. You get really good measurements.

After assembling and chilling each of the pop tarts, I put them in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 to bake. My only concern was that the butter did melt a bit and oozed out. This isn't a big deal because I always line my pans with parchment paper. I do wonder if cutting out some of the butter and replacing it with vegetable shortening would have a different outcome. Another test will have to take place.

Here are the finished pop tarts. They tasted soooo good. Yes, I know there are only 3 in the picture. But my husband and I did a lot of quality control tasting before I got a chance to snap a picture.

Give it a try. It is well worth the time in the kitchen.



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Crayon Hearts

Feb 04 2013

If the sun seems to peer right into your window, give it something pretty to look at -- and through. These translucent hanging hearts are easy to make from waxed paper and crayons.

Begin with a 12-by-16-inch sheet of waxed paper. Fold it in half along its length; unfold. Deposit wax-crayon shavings (made with a handheld pencil sharpener) evenly but not thickly across one half of the paper.

Fold the clean half of the paper over the shavings. Crimp the three open edges with a 1/2-inch fold to hold the shavings. Protect your ironing surface with kraft paper. Place the waxed paper on the kraft paper, and cover it with another sheet of kraft paper.

Iron lightly on medium heat, checking after every few passes. Stop when all the shavings have melted; let cool.

Next, trace and cut out hearts of various sizes. String each heart with a silk thread for hanging.

Martha Stewart Living, February 2000 



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How to Make Grungy Candles

Jan 14 2013

Grungy CandlySupplies:
Modge Podge - matte finish
Instant coffee grounds
Spices - cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, coffee grounds
Disposible aluminum pan 



This process will work on any size candle, whether is it a pillar or taper.

To make the Modge Podge mixture:
Combine equals parts modge podge and water; then add instant coffees until you get the darkness you want. This mixture lasts a long time, so make it in a jar with a secure lid. 

In a resealable plastic bag, mix together the spices you want to use - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and even dry coffee grounds. If you want to create even more texture, you can hand grind your spices. Sprinkle some of your spices onto a disposible aluminum pan.

Grungy Candle

Using a paint brush or foam brush, apply the modge podge mixture to the candle in sections and then roll it in the spices. As it's lying face down, paint more modge podge on candle and then roll in spices. Keep doing this until the candle is completely covered.

Grungy Candle

Let it set for about 1/2 hour to an hour to dry. Tap the candle to remove any excess spices.

To seal: You can apply another coat of modge podge to seal the spices in or you can spray the entire candle with matte finish sealer.

Grungy Candle

The candle on the left just had matte finish sealer applied and the right one had the modge podge mixture applied.

Source: http://simplyprim.blogspot.com/



Filed Under: This and That,How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country
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Christmas Mice Cookies

Dec 06 2012

Christmas Mice Cookies
Recipe from Very Merry Cookie Party: How to Plan and Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange by Virginia Van Vynckt and Barbara Grunes

Makes 15 cookies

• 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
• Green food coloring
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
• 30 almond slices
• 15 currants or small red candies
• Green or blue decorating pen
• Green (sour apple) whips (laces) or other candy whips of your choice, cut into 6-inch pieces (15 pieces total)

1. In a small cup, stir together the condensed milk and 2 or 3 drops food coloring, or enough to create a very pale green. Make sure the food coloring is completely mixed through the milk.

2. In a food processor, combine the confectioners’ sugar, coconut, and condensed milk mixture and process until all the ingredients are well combined and the coconut is finely minced, about 1 minute. Remove the blade from the food processor.

3. Scoop up a tablespoon of the coconut mixture, then gently push it out of the spoon with another spoon onto a work surface. Shape the mixture into a mouse, pinching a narrow nose on one end and a plump rear on the other. Using a spatula, transfer the mouse on a plate. Repeat until all the mice have been formed.

4. Place 2 almond slices on each mouse “head” to create ears, and put a currant at the tip of the nose. Using the decorating pen, draw an eye on each mouse. Position a piece of candy whip for the tail on the plump rear, opposite the head. Cover the mice lightly with aluminum foil. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



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Scented Pine Cones

Nov 15 2012

Scented Pine Cones by My Lovi Country Crafts and Collectibles

The best part of this project is that most of the items you already have on hand. It is a great project to involve kids with. Plus you can save a lot of money.

 



Directions:

1. First, washed them off in the sink to clean them well.
2. Lay them out on a foil-lined pan and baked them at 200 degrees for about 45 minutes. This ensures that the sap melts. 
3. Placed the pine cones in a plastic bag, added several drops of cinnamon essential oil, sealed it up and shake to distribute the oil. Keep the bag sealed for 2-7 days. 
4. Take pine cones out and put in a bowl and decorate!

If you don't have any essential oil, you can try this method after baking them:

1. Spread your pine cones out on layers of newspaper.
2. Use a foam brush to apply a white glue on the pine cones.
3. Mix cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in baggie.
4. Add pine cones in spice mix.
5. Shake to cover.
6. Allow to dry overnight.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

They smell absolutely delightful. There's something about the scent of cinnamon that makes me feel so cozy and happy to be home.



Filed Under: This and That,How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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Black Cat O'lanterns

Oct 10 2012

CatMaterials
Knife or carving kit
Pumpkins
Pen
Scissors
Stiff felt or paper for
ears
Newspaper
Curved cucumber or skinny gourd for tail
Mini pumpkins for paws
Black floral spray
Wood floral picks (5 or 6 per pumpkin; optional)
Mallet or hammer for attaching picks to base
pumpkin (optional)
Tea-light candle in flat dish or jar lid
Clay polymer or poster putty

Step 1: Cut out top of small pumpkin and scoop the inside clean. Place it upside down on the base pumpkin, turning to find a good fit. If necessary, carve opening slightly to adjust.

Step 2: Set head on the base to decide placement of eyes, then carve them out. 

pumpkingStep 3: Cut pointy ears out of felt or card stock and mark their positions on the head with a pen. Carve two shallow grooves into the head to hold the ears. Avoid cutting all the way through the pumpkin. (For more realistic ears, carve crescent-shaped grooves.)

Step 4: Prep an outside work area for spray painting. Stuff the head with loosely crumpled newspaper. Cover pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and cucumber with one or two thin coats of black spray paint. Allow to dry. Remove stuffing and insert the ears.

Step 5: If the head is wobbly, gently pound a few floral picks into the body with the mallet or hammer. Measure the opening of the head, then position the picks to fit just inside. Touch up paint if needed.

cat 2Step 6: Put a short tea light on a lid or dish to catch any drips. Stick to the top of the big pumpkin with a small ball of clay polymer or poster putty. Attach the head. Position cat and arrange tail and paws next to body.



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Lighted Ghosts

Oct 10 2012

Create lighted ghouls from common household items in less than an hour

Step 1: For each ghost, wrap a wire tomato cage with a string of clear rope lights. You can get a 15 foot piece at some Target stores for about $6.00. (see picture on what they look like). You want clear so that you don't see the wire through the drop cloth.

Step 2: Cut a 6‐ x 9‐foot drop cloth to approximately 4 1/2 x 7 feet to cover the tomato cage. Use a black permanent marker to draw eyes and a mouth.

Step 3: Plug the lights into a secure grounded outlet.



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Homemade Apple Cider Donuts

Sep 27 2012

Homemade Apple Cider DonutsAdapted from Lauren Dawson at Hearth Restaurant

Makes 18 doughnuts + 18 doughnut holes (suggested yield for a 3-inch cutter)

 

 

 

1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening (see my explanation in the post) for frying

Toppings (optional)
Glaze (1 cup confectioners’ sugar + 2 tablespoons apple cider)
Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)

Make the doughnuts: In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

Apple Cider Donuts - rolled outLine two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Pull the dough out of the freezer. Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole from a set like this, as I did — cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)

Add enough oil or shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F*. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

Apple Cider Donut holesMake your toppings (if using): While the cut doughnut shapes are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside.

 

 

Finished Apple Cider Donut HolesFry and top the doughnuts: Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.



Filed Under: Piece of Cake,This and That
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How to make your own air dried porcelain (aka Porcelana Fria) clay

Sep 04 2012

Cold Porcelain Clay

By Megan Bayliss
Amazingly simple and a GREAT school holiday project to get the kids into the kitchen to cook up some homemade, air-dried, porcelain (aka Porcelana Fria) out of common household ingredients.

Ingredients:
3 cups of white glue (PVA)
3 cups of cornstarch (Corn flour)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp glycerin (health food or hobby shop)
2 tbsp canola oil

Also have cold cream or hand cream on hand.

Let’s make it:

In a mixing bowl (or non-stick pan) mix 3 cups of white glue and 3 cups of cornstarch. Add one tablespoon of white vinegar, one tablespoon of glycerin, 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Blend thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

Cook in a saucepan over low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the dough becomes thick and lumpy (like ricotta cheese) and starts to pull away from the side of the pan, remove from heat.

Cooking is the only tricky step to making cold porcelain. You need to cook just long enough to thicken the dough but not too long, otherwise it will be too hard and impossible to work with.

Coat your working surface and your hands with cold cream or hand cream. Knead the dough until it has cooled. It can be quite hot to begin with, so take care. The dough is sticky and lumpy at first, but as you knead it, it becomes smooth and supple. Bounce it back and forth from hand to hand until it cools, but firmly, like you would ball clay to soften it. Then knead it, like chewing with fingers. REally get in there. Once it's a nice smooth soft ball, ****STORE IN AIR TIGHT CONTAINER FOR 24HRS!!!!**** Another important factor.

Makes a large ball. Store in an airtight container.



Filed Under: This and That,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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Holiday Craft Season is Upon Us

Aug 23 2012

Craft Show by My Lovi - Country Crafts and Collectibles

I was looking back on some of the topics I have written about and a year ago this week I talked about the upcoming craft season. It is that time of year again for my business to prepare for our fall and holiday craft shows. I personally love doing them because it gives me an opportunity to meet up with customers who are looking for “what’s new” and to test out some new products that customers can weigh in on what they like or don’t like about the product. We are working on some really great ornaments this year and hoping to offer a nativity set this year. In an upcoming edition of our monthly newsletter I will give you the opportunity to pre-order sets when they are available.

Looking back from a year ago, My Lovi has expanded our furniture and cakes/confection business line and are just about to launch a monthly newsletter in September so that I can provide my customers and followers with new product launches, show information, blog posts and “news” in general. If you want to sign up for the newsletter (I don’t SPAM and will only send it out monthly!!) join today and don’t miss out. 

What has happened this past year in your business or what are you looking for at shows to purchase. Let’s hear from you.



Filed Under: The Long and Winding...Craft Road,Life of a Craft Business
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Growing your Handcraft Business

Aug 09 2012

While I am by no means an expert in running my craft business, I do try to read and learn from as many successful business people as possible. This post is mostly some high points that I have learned and some of my favorite “must reads” around this subject.

Things I learned:

  • Start small (but dream big).
    As someone told me “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.
  • Decide what you want to be known for. 
    It can be a number of product lines, but pick a style. For example, one of our product lines is furniture. We were smart about the fact that we picked a style (Shaker-inspired and Country) and decided how deep this product line would go. For example, we don't make chairs. 
  • Surround yourself with people who know something that you don’t. 
    I have a great local printer, accountant and my husband is the best bookkeeper! That doesn’t mean you should be ignorant about these areas, but you save money using people who know what they are doing because they can do it faster and better than you. Remember, time is money! 
  • Learn as much as you can. 
    This is where I read as much as I can. I have a very large (and growing) library of books that I reference often. No, I do not use a Kindle or any other tablet. I really need “paper” versions for what I do. But if electronic versions work for you, go for it. I also follow a lot of insightful and successful blogs. 

    My must reads are: 
    • The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and On-Line by Kari Chapin 
    • Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop, and Sustain a Successful Creative Business by Kari Chapin (This is her newest book – out July 2012 – on my “To Buy” list)

Many of my earlier books were written by Barbara Brabec who was instrumental in guiding me over a decade ago in my business. Also, you need to pick up a good book on the “legal issues” surrounding the craft industry. Very enlightening.

Those are good starts. What do you read, follow, etc.



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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7 Ways to Grow Your E-mail List

Jul 25 2012

Blog out email marketing by My Lovi - Country Crafts and Collectibles

By Janine Popick

Whether you have just started using e-mail marketing for your crafts business or are well-versed in the tool, it’s still helpful to know how to grow your e-mail marketing lists. A larger list means more potential customers at trade shows and events, and more opportunities to promote offers, coupons and new products to increase sales.

  1. Got an offline business? Ask for e-mail addresses! Do you have a physical location where customers can buy your products? There are a number of ways to capture e-mail addresses—you could even display a glass bowl to collect business cards or offer something of value for free.  
  2. Do you sell online? After your customers have purchased from you, why not direct them to a page that hosts your sign-up form? They’ve just had a great experience ordering from you, so surely they’ll want to hear from you via e-mail with special offers.  
  3. Use trade shows to get e-mail addresses. When you meet potential customers at trade shows, ask for their e-mail addresses. If you have a booth where you are displaying your arts and crafts, offer a sign-up book for people to sign up for special offers. Then you can enter them into your contact list after the show. 
  4. Grow your list with Twitter. Think of Twitter as a boost for your e-mail marketing program. When you create your newsletter or e-mail, “tweet” a link to your latest e-mail campaign. Then you can let everyone on Twitter know you’ve published your latest e-mail and remind them to sign up for your e-mail list if they haven’t already.  
  5. Use what you’ve got. Export your list of personal friends and business colleagues who know you from your Outlook, Gmail, AOL and Yahoo accounts. Then send everyone an e-mail, personally asking them to join your list. Link off to a hosted version of an opt-in form so you can track them separately. Don’t forget to include the value they’ll be getting from you, like discounts, coupons or information exclusive to them. And since you know these people, chances are they’ll join pretty quickly.  
  6. Leverage other websites. Contact other sites where your craft audience may be visiting and ask to partner with them to include your e-mail marketing newsletter sign-up in their communications, and you will do the same in yours. Both of you can grow your newsletters together!  
  7. Include a registration form on your site. With an e-mail opt-in form, you can gather addresses on your website, blog and social networking sites (such as Facebook). You may want to have multiple forms on your site to track where people are signing up. Try not to ask too much of your recipients—only ask for what you need. Then once you establish more of a relationship with them, you can ask for more information.

About the author: Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, a leading provider of self-service e-mail marketing, online surveys and direct mail services em­powering small businesses to create, manage and analyze their own direct marketing campaigns. Popick is a columnist for Inc.’s Women in Business blog. In her spare time, she is VerticalResponse’s Chief Executive Blogger for the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog for small businesses. Follow her on Twitter @janinepopick. This is an excerpt from 7 Ways to Grow Your E-mail List in the June 2010 issue of The Crafts Report.

 



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What is Natural?

Jul 12 2012

Wicked Bubble Natural Soap by My Lovi Country Crafts and Collectibles

Everything on our planet is “natural”, but some things are not good for consumption or put on our bodies. I hear a lot of chatter around natural bath products and what are better. All are good products, but some may cause a reaction or you may be more sensitive to the products. Most of my life I had been sensitive to bath products. This could have been caused by the ingredients and/or fragrance in the products. I tried baby products, fragrance-free, high-end and “low-end” products for my bath, but nothing seemed to last long. They all eventually began to irritate my skin. So I ventured into the soap-making arena. That solved my issue. I have been making a “cold-processed” soap (not to be confused with glycerin soap – another post) for years. Playing around with the best oils for my skin and avoiding others has made the difference. I have been making my own soap since 1995 and don’t plan on changing. I have even converted my husband. My advice to you if you suffer like I did, is find a good supplier of soap that uses ingredients that work with your body. There are many great suppliers of soap out there, including my company. The key is to try different ones and find one that works for you.

What do you think about Natural soap products?



Filed Under: This and That,Wicked Bubbles
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MAJOR difference between brown eggs and white eggs

Jun 21 2012

Egg Blog by My Lovi - Country Crafts and Collectibles

Brown eggs are brown and white eggs are white.

Does that answer your question?

No? OK then. According to the Egg Nutrition Board, "White shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and ear lobes. Brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. There is no difference in taste or nutrition between white and brown eggs." Brown eggs, however, are more expensive because the chickens that lay them eat more than those that lay white eggs." Among the breeds that lay brown eggs are the Rhode Island Red, the New Hampshire and the Plymouth Rock--all larger birds that require more food.

So that song I keep hearing in my head “Brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh” is only half true. Local eggs are fresh and you can have white eggs that are fresh, not only brown ones.

Other egg tips:
Best to crack an egg when they are cold, right out of the frig. Now if you want to whip up egg whites to the highest they can, they should be at room temperature.

Size does matter: It is best to use large eggs in cooking and baking. When an egg is referred to in a recipe, they almost always mean “large”. With that, I only stock large in my kitchen whether I use them for business or personal. Then I don't have tons of different sizes in my refrigerator.

So what "cracks you up" with eggs?



Filed Under: Piece of Cake,This and That
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How to Maximize Your Craft Fair Profit

Jun 14 2012

Craft Picture for My Lovi Country Crafts and Collectibles Blog

By Molly Fisher

With the spring/summer craft fair season well under way, you might be wondering, "Is it worth it to do art and craft fairs?"

How to Maximize Craft Fair Profit

The full cost of participating in craft fairs is something a lot of vendors don't think about when calculating their net profit.

Yes, there's the cost of the booth space, which typically ranges from $30 to $250 for smaller shows, and up to $800 for multiple-day events and juried shows.

But what about promotional materials, marketing costs, booth/table decorations, tents (for outdoor shows), signage and displays? It all adds up.

The best strategy for getting a return on your investment is to plan on doing many craft fairs – don't hang your hat on the success of one. Participating in several will allow you to find the craft fairs that work for you, and get more value from all the gear you bought.

How Much Are Craft Fair Vendors Really Making Per Show?

Based on feedback from the vendors, profits vary greatly from show to show.

Some have done shows for a $30 booth fee that grossed more than 10 times that, and also shows that barely broke even. Pick your show wisely. Go to the show as a buyer [first] and see if the merchandise fits your style and chat with vendors.

There are a lot of variables to think about here: a business owner should not expect to just set up a table at any show and watch the dollars roll in.

While show organizers typically do promotion for the entire event, it's up to you to activate your network of friends and family members. From Facebook to blog postings and word of mouth, make sure your friends know to check out your show.

Choosing a show that suits your product and prices, actively marketing your attendance, and keeping booth/attendance costs low are all factors that will influence your craft show success.

How Can You Tell If You Have Had A Successful Craft Show?

Almost all of the creative entrepreneurs stressed the importance of setting concrete sales goals before the show to measure its success.

Some calculate a goal based on booth fees to keep it simple:
"If shows are local, grossing 8 times the booth fee is acceptable, others say 5 times booth fees."

7 Strategies For Craft Show Success:

1. Keep Costs Low
Design your booth to attract attention, but don't break the bank at the beginning. You can always add to your booth later as you make sales.

2. Market your attendance before the show
Use your mailing lists, your Facebook followers, the local Chamber of Commerce list, and any other marketing channels available to you to market your attendance at your local show. Include a booth number and location if they are available to you and even consider offering an incentive for anyone that visits your booth.

3. Pick Your Show Wisely and Price Appropriately
Attend shows as a buyer before you ever sign up to do the show as a vendor. This will give you a good idea of what people are buying, what price points they are comfortable with, and what your competition is doing.

4. Gather And Share Contact Information At The Show
Plan to have an email sign-up sheet, business cards and sales sheets in your booth. This can be a fantastic opportunity to grow your marketing list and follow up with new contacts who were interested but didn't convert to a sale at the show.

5. Stay Active
When you are at the show, don't jump on passers-by to get them into your booth – instead work on crafts in your booth to draw attention. People love to see how things are made and that will bring people to you.

6. Plan to Attend Many Shows
Too many small businesses only budget for one show and if it doesn't work out, they never try it again. If you go into doing shows knowing that some will work for you and some will not, you can plan a budget that makes sense over time. Your initial costs will be the greatest, but if you do many shows, you will come out with a profit.

7. Set Sales Goals
Setting specific goals for your attendance will focus your efforts and make sure you know whether this is a show you should continue to do in the future.

For complete article by Molly Fisher



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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Catching Flies with Honey

Jun 07 2012

My Lovi Craft Blog - Flies to HoneyWritten by Patrice Lewis
It seems like such an easy thing to say bad things about your competition, especially if you have a legitimate reason. In truth, however, badmouthing can come back to bite you in the butt… big time.

Small Circles, Big Ripples

Let’s face it; the crafting circuit can be a small and intimate place. We often see the same vendors at different events. While it may seem like a smart move to talk down competing crafters in order to garner more sales for yourself, the opposite is true: unprofessional behavior will always come back to haunt you.

And invariably, badmouthing backfires among the very people you’re trying to impress – your customers. People recognize mean-spiritedness in a heartbeat and, as my experience demonstrates, badmouthers often drive traffic to the very vendor they’re trying to trash.

Badmouthing has larger implications as well. Event producers talk. If a vendor has a reputation for unprofessional behavior, word is likely to spread among different show producers, and that vendor may be dropped off the list of prospective booths. No one likes to deal with troublemakers.

Why Honey Works Better than Vinegar

To some inexperienced crafters, it may seem counter-intuitive to send clients to the competition, but that spirit of generosity is appreciated by customers and vendors alike.

Badmouthing your competition actually lends credibility to your competitor. If you’re scared enough to attack someone, it must be because you’re worried about them. In other words (the logic goes) the competition must be doing something right.

The old saying suggests you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Believe me, customers aren’t stupid. They’re going to recognize when you’re unfairly attempting to paint the competition as terrible. Negative talk says a whole lot more about you than it does about your competition.

Online vs. In Person

The same warnings apply toward online acid. Unlike verbal comments, whatever is written online (Facebook, blogs, websites, etc.) can be picked up, copied, forwarded, and cached. Just because you’re not dealing with customers in person doesn’t mean you can descend into unprofessional behavior online.

Remember, half-truths and innuendo can be just as damaging as flat-out lies about a competitor. And libel is a serious offense – don’t let yourself get sucked into shady behavior and risk getting sued because you’re annoyed by competition.

Competition as a Tool

Like it or not, competition exists. As with all marketplace conditions, healthy competition is a useful tool on which to hone and sharpen your business skills. If my booth is sloppy, unwelcoming, and full of acrimony, then I’ll drive customers toward the competition. The existence of competition keeps me on my toes and alert to what attracts sales or what drives away customers.

In some ways, badmouthing your competition smacks of laziness. It’s easier to complain about your competitor than to fix your own problems. But if you recognize what is driving customers to your competition, you’re in a better position to improve your own products, presentation, or service.

When the Competition Really is Bad

Now what happens when a competitor truly IS awful? What if their products are shoddy or their habits are unethical?

If you know for a fact (not rumor) that your competition is doing something shady or wrong, then there’s nothing wrong with looking after your customer’s best interests or guiding them away from something or someone unscrupulous. Much depends on your methods, however. Gloating over the competitor’s misdeeds is unprofessional.

Additionally, if your competitor’s behavior is dishonest or potentially criminal, you have an obligation to report them to the event coordinator. Remember that in this litigious age, people are just as likely to file a lawsuit against an event as they are against a vendor. The event producer needs to know if something’s wrong.

Fix the Mistakes

If you’re guilty of badmouthing the competition and are driving away customers as a result, you should immediately change your habits. A genuine apology for your behavior to the maligned business can also result in tremendously improved relations with your fellow crafters. We’ve all made mistakes, after all, and those we think the most highly of are those big enough to admit their mistakes and atone for them.

Don’t be foolish. Keep your unjust complaints to yourself. Win the loyalty of your customers by treating people (including competitors) right, not wrong. Gain a reputation for being a generous and honest person, not by being a sourpuss and a complainer.

To read the article by Patrice Lewis in its entirety, you can find it on The Crafters Report



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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Summer Crafting is Upon Us

May 24 2012

Garden Markers - My Lovi

The weather is finally getting warm in Maine (though it was a mild winter) and my creative juices are again flowing for outdoor projects.  My husband makes really nice birdhouses and I would like to add a few here and there to increase my bird population. I will probably wait until my strawberries and red currents have been picked, but we did have a family take up residence in one of the houses a year or so ago.

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, it is the start of me planting my veggie and herb garden.  I saw these cute “garden markers” which will be my inspirational start for my own garden. First with veggies and herbs and then as the season progresses, my perennial flowers (maybe a few of my favorite annuals thrown in).

The key is purchasing some inexpensive stainless steel spoons (please don’t use grandma’s good silver!!) and then get painting. I would use stainless steel so that they don’t rust and you can use them over and over again and use a good acrylic paint. You probably could use some of those “patio paints”, but I find them limited in color choices. Make sure to also seal the painted area with a good outdoor varnish so that the weather won’t fade and ruin your work. It won’t hurt your garden having the spoons in there, but will add a bit of whimsy to it. I will post mine when I get done (and the steps I took in creating them) so you can see what I came up with and if you need a set or two, just drop me a line and I can make you some.

Happy crafting.



Filed Under: This and That,How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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Homemade Baby Wipes

May 10 2012


Homemade wipes by My Lovi - Country Crafts and CollectiblesThis idea was sparked when I visited my sister-in-law this past weekend. I can’t believe I have been in the dark all these years. Probably because my sons are in their twenties and I probably don’t need baby wipes. But with my crafts, these are going to be invaluable since I use wipes to constantly clean my hands (especially when I am working with clay).

My take on this SUPER EASY recipe is that I make my own soap, so diluting some of my soap made more sense, but I put a note where you could change it to the “baby wash”. I just recommend something more natural or organic if you can. Also, if you don't want to add all the extra moisturizer, you can forego, but I need to keep my hands soft.

Ingredients (for 1/2 roll)
• 1 roll of heavy duty paper towels (Viva brand works well just don’t use cheap paper towels)
• Rubbermaid #6 or #8 container
• 2 cups boiled water (or distilled)-cooled but still warm
• 1 Tablespoon of pure aloe vera- check the ingredients (for extra moisturizing)
• 1 Tablespoon of pure Witch Hazel Extract (anti-bacterial)
• 2 Tablespoons of a liquid soap (I grated up some of my handmade soap and melted it, but you can use a natural or organic baby wash)
• 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil (for extra moisturizing and is naturally anti-bacterial, microbial, and fungal)
• Essential Oils of choice (optional: I use 6 drops each of spearmint and lavender)

Process
• Cut the roll of paper towels in half using a sharp knife
• Place ONE of the halves, cut side down in container.
• In bowl or quart size jar mix the water, aloe, witch hazel, soap, and oil and stir. You need it a bit warm to melt the coconut oil. If you omit the coconut oil, you don’t have to worry about anything needing to melt.
• Add essential oils if desired and stir.
• Pour over paper towel in container and let absorb- this takes about 5-10 minutes.
• Flip the container over to make sure wipes are well soaked (about another 5 minutes).
• Pull the cardboard roll out from the inside. This should also pull the innermost wipe out and start them for you.

Note: If your child has extremely sensitive skin, you may need to leave out the essential oils or use calendula or chamomile.



Filed Under: This and That,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts,Wicked Bubbles
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Herbal Fire Starter

Apr 26 2012

Handcrafted Fire Starters by My Lovi Pinecones and dried herbs such as rosemary, sage leaves, and cinnamon sticks make fragrant kindling for an outdoor or indoor fire -- and, unlike composite firelogs and lighter fluid, don't rely on chemicals to ignite the flame.

This makes a great project with your kids because it gets them outside in nature collecting some of the ingredients and then makes a quick and fun craft project to enjoy later. 

1. Bundle dried herbs and small pinecones in a sheet of newspaper and secure the ends with raffia or cotton twine.

2. As you pile up logs for your fire, nestle the herb bundle underneath, with paper ends sticking out.

3. To start the fire, light the newspaper ends.

As the paper burns up, the herbs inside will ignite and incinerate, giving the logs a chance to catch fire. 

Many thanks to Whole Living for this great idea.



Filed Under: This and That,How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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Pomp and Circumstances - Celebrating Graduations

Apr 12 2012

Graduation Season by My Lovi Country Crafts and CollectiblesWhen one hears that iconic music, we all know what is about to happen. Aside from the hugs and speeches, how else do we celebrate this rite of passage? For us, here at My Lovi, we make a lot of Graduate figurines out of polymer clay. There always is another combination that I hadn't thought of that someone would like for their figurine. Many are on the "gift" list along with some other token of praise. But some do wind up being a cake topper. If you use it as a cake topper, then when the cake is finished, put it up for display for years to come. This idea is something much different than screening a picture on cake icing.

Share some of your graduation memories, either yours or someone you know. Don't forget, the graduation season start in May!Graduate Figurine - Female in White Gown by My Lovi Country Crafts and Collectibles



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Naturally Dyed Eggs - Something new for Easter

Apr 05 2012

Naturally Dyed Eggs - My Lovi Country Crafts and CollectiblesWith the upcoming Easter holiday, many families will be off to their local Big Box store to get their egg dying kits. I remember dying eggs the night before the “big day” when I was little. If you come from a large family like mine, there were a lot of eggs to boil in preparation. I will say, that there are some better ways to prep your eggs and dye them. I have included two links that you can use to get a more “natural color egg” and the step by step process. In my personal opinion these eggs look beautiful. Looking at the ingredients below, many of which you have right in your refrigerator or panty and a fun way to expose your kids or yourself to something new.

Color Chart:
Purple Cabbage: (makes blue on white eggs, green on brown eggs)
Red Onion Skins: (makes lavender or red)
Yellow Onion Skins: (makes orange on white eggs, rusty red on brown eggs)
Ground Turmeric: (makes yellow)
Red Zinger Tea Bags: (makes lavender)
Beets: (makes pink on white eggs, maroon on brown eggs)

Egg Preparation:
I can go either way with boiling or using a steamer, but the key is not to use super fresh eggs. You need them about a week old. Otherwise, it is a royal pain to try and remove the shell to eat them later. It is all about the egg membrane, and such. So, in a nutshell, buy them at the grocery store, not from the farm if you want to have some egg left after you peel them.

Put the eggs in a pot (not crowded) and cover with cold water and turn the stove on high until the water comes to a complete boil. Turn off the heat and cover with a tight fitting lid and let them sit for 30 minutes. Drain the water and cover with cold water and let them cool for about 30 minutes again. I usually put them in the frig at this stage and forego the cooling stage in water.

Once cool, let the decorating begin!!!

Let me know your ideas for decorating eggs or send me pictures of what you have done and I will post.

Happy crafting and Happy Easter.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/dye-easter-eggs-ingredients-found-fridge/story?id=16061204#.T32e8KtSTnM

http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/natural-egg-dye/



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Vinegar: Paint Tricks

Mar 22 2012

Vinegar and Paint - My Lovi Blog PostThese tips are wonderful on how to use vinegar when painting. I have posted an excerpt from "Ask Anna".  I know when you think "paint projects" that you don't normally think "vinegar". Well I'm going to give you a few tips that might make you think otherwise.

#1 Removing Paint from glass

To remove paint from glass all you need is hot vinegar. "Heat up the white vinegar [in the microwave] and use a cloth to wipe away the paint." Way less headache than using paint stripper!

# 2 Cement floors

When painting cement the paint tends to peel or crack over time. "You can keep the paint stuck to the cement longer by giving the floor an initial coat of white vinegar before you paint it. Wait until the vinegar has dried" and then paint. Using this simple trick will ensure that you painted floors will shine and be beautiful longer!

#3 Metal

Often times painting metal can be tricky. Depending on the type of paint you're using, the paint may have a hard time sticking to the metal. But don't worry, vinegar will come to the rescue! To prepare the metal surface and reduce the tendency of peeling paint, "wipe down clean metal surfaces with a vinegar solution made of 1 part white vinegar to 5 parts water."

#4 Paint brushes

Do you ever finish a painting project, get side tracked and forget to clean your brushes? To soften paint brushes "bring a pan of white vinegar to a boil on the stove." Once the water is boiling add the paint brushes. "Allow the brushes to simmer for around 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and wash in hot soapy water."


For complete article from "Ask Anna" visit http://www.askannamoseley.com/



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business,This and That
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3 Cardinal Rules of E-mail Sign-ups

Mar 15 2012

By Janine Popick
Whether you get e-mail addresses from people in person at a trade show, from a sign-up book or through collecting their business cards, always remember the following rules of e-mail marketing sign-ups:

 

1.  Tell prospects what they’ll get in return for giving you their e-mail address. Consider giving them a special discount or offer just for providing their e-mail. 

2.  Tell them how often they can expect your emails, and if they’ll be informational or offer-driven.

3.  Once they sign up, send them a welcome e-mail. Use this opportunity to once again illustrate the value you’ll be providing them with your e-mail marketing updates.

There are many creative ways to grow your e-mail lists that will help you better market and sell your work. If you remember to provide value through your e-mails and only e-mail people who have agreed to receive communications from your business, you will continue to maintain a set of happy and engaged customers.

About the author: Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, a leading provider of self-service e-mail marketing, online surveys and direct mail services.This is an excerpt from 7 Ways to Grow Your E-mail List in the June 2010 issue of The Crafts Report.



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How to Create Your Own Brand Identity at a Craft Show

Mar 01 2012

Brand Identity - Posted by My LoviWritten by Bruce Baker

Selling at shows or in galleries revolves around three things:

• Impeccably crafted, creative and innovative products designed to be “on trend” and developed to fill customers’ needs sell well. Products have to be the right look, scale, color, weight and an entire list of other criteria to make them desirable.

In this current business climate, functionality, be it real or implied, is a big factor in what people are buying. You are more likely to sell a customer something in this era if it has a use. If that use is only to make the customer feel good, it must be made obvious to them.

• You must be a good salesperson to make the most out of any sales venue. So many sales are blown in the greeting stage because artists don’t know how to sell their work. Sales are a language-based skill—when you learn to use effective language when selling, your sales volume will increase.

• The third element in the trinity of a sale is visual merchandising. Creating displays that cap­ture the customer’s attention, draw them into your space and sell your work is the objective! This third element is the focus here. How does one create compelling displays without spending a lot of money? When it comes to displays, it isn’t about how much money you spend, but rather about how creatively you showcase your work.

I always find it so interesting that as creative as artists are with regard to designing their work, when it comes to displaying it, they often take the easy-street approach. Many say, “I am just not good at display,” and give up. If you use shows to market your work, display is a part of your job. Currently, I am seeing a movement where artists are buying commercially available display systems that can be quick and easy, but the net result is that too many booths look exactly alike. This makes it hard for the customer to distinguish what is compelling about your product line, and makes it hard for you to build a recognizable brand.

When customers see you at a show, the visual of your booth should be the projection of a recognizable look—a brand identity. When customers see you at the next show, there should be a connection and memory of your display, your work and your image. I am not criticizing commercial displays or the use of them, this approach is right for some. However, the displays that I see grabbing the attention of customers are almost always custom-made.

Displays that employ conscious design decisions that work with the product line go a long way to create that special look—one that will resonate with customers. Effective custom-built displays not only create a mood and look that is unique to your line, but they also clearly distinguish you from your competition. Good design in your display will result in a sales tool that works for you, your customers and your product line better than any commercially available display.

By using careful and creative display solutions, you can save a lot of money compared to commercially available displays. Do not be afraid to use the same creativity in designing your booth as you use to create your work. If you are daunted by how you will build it, get someone to build it for you.

The first rule is that the display must work with the merchandise and vise versa. Plus, the display must speak to your ultimate customer who will buy the product. Sales will suffer if the demographic you are trying to sell to cannot relate to your colors or even the look of your booth. Keep in mind, your display should stimulate the senses.

The visual sense of your display needs to be one that will draw customers in to your space. Meaning, they will cross that imaginary line between the aisle and the front of your booth. The second sense that needs to be tweaked is the sense of touch. When your displays prompt your customers to touch something, you will see a spike in your sales.

An effective booth must get the customers to stop, take notice and be drawn into your space. When they do come in, something has to hold their attention and get them to touch the products. Your well-honed sales skills should take over at this point and, if you are effective, you will close a sale.

Too many booths send the message “look but do not touch.” Or sometimes things are displayed in such a way that the message is sent that you shouldn’t touch—key among these are shelves that are too deep, tables that are too wide and if the product line is out of easy reach. In most cases with commercial systems, you cannot determine the depth of a shelf (they mostly come as one size fits all).

Custom displays (ones designed by you) have so many advantages over commercially available systems. Realize that first of all, display isn’t “rocket science”—that is really all you need to know to empower yourself to be a display designer. If you go to a couple shows, stores or galleries and observe what creates visual magic, you will realize that you have what it takes to be a display designer. By analyzing your findings and asking a few questions, you will determine what works and what doesn’t. Then, reinterpret all your observations into a design that works for you, your product line and your customers—one that helps you build your brand.

About the Author: Bruce Baker is a Senior Columnist for The Crafts Report. This post is an excerpt from the article, "10 Tips for Creating a Custom Booth on a Shoestring Budget," which appeared in the April 2010 issue of The Crafts Report. To read the entire article, contact Jack at (800) 331-0038, ext. 124 to buy this issue.

 



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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When in a Pinch - Homemade Baking Power

Feb 03 2012

Baking Powder Recipe - My LoviYou never know when you need baking powder. Or should I clarify, "fresh" baking powder. We know you have a can in the back of your cupboard, but that can doesn’t stay "potent" forever. The next best thing is to make your own. It isn’t that hard and has a better taste to it. Two ingredients and use it in the same ratio as the can stuff.  Thank you Gourmet.com!

 

 

 

Homemade Baking Powder
Makes about 1/3 cup
Active Time: 5 min
Start to Finish: 5 min

1/4 cup cream of tartar
2 tablespoons baking soda

Sift together cream of tartar and baking soda 3 times, then transfer to a clean dry jar and seal tightly.

Notes: Baking powder keeps in a cool, dark place 6 weeks.



Filed Under: Piece of Cake
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When the teacher goes to sewing class

Jan 12 2012

My Lovi - Embroidery Machine ClassLast night I attended a private class on how to use my new Husqvarna/Viking 600E embroidery/sewing machine. Since this was a huge investment for the company, it would be good to know how to use it. I offer classes in sewing, but at least my students don’t need to bring this much stuff to their class. What is missing (since I couldn’t fit it in the picture) was the computer that this machine needs to be “tethered” to if you want to use the embroidery features.

My instructor was wonderful and I do feel I have a firm grasp on how to use this new tool. I have wanted to offer personalization on some of my products and this would make it easier to do. Now, moving on to setting it up in my studio.

My Lovi - Embroidery SamplesHere are my first two projects that I completed. One being a flower (obvious) and the other is my husband’s name (he didn’t appear as thrilled as I was). I can even create new designs and import them into the software and then put them on fabric.  So excited for me and what I can now offer my customers.

Happy crafting.



Filed Under: This and That,Life of a Craft Business
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Another Year in the Making

Jan 06 2012

My Lovi wishes you a Happy New YearIt is another year for our company and the first blog post of the new year. With the start of 2012, we also begin our fourth year in business. Can't believe how time flys. We want to thank all of our customers, friends and businesses relationships we have made this past year and are looking forward to another successful year together.

We all make personal resolutions each year, but I wanted to think about some for our company. Here are some of our company resolutions for this year:

  • Continue providing the best quality products to our customers.
  • We would like, when we can, purchase as many of our raw supplies locally as possible. It is our small way to help other businesses like ourselves.

What are your resolutions for the year? Hopefully, one of them will be to spend some of your purchasing dollars locally (in your neighborhood and/or USA). We would love to hear them.

Happy crafting!



Filed Under: This and That,Life of a Craft Business,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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6 Simple Tricks to Make Money and Beat the Economy

Dec 15 2011

My Lovi - Money PictureWritten by Bruce Baker

Since the financial collapse of October 2008, artists no doubt have been more challenged to sell their work than any time since the Great Depression. The recent financial collapse was a low blow to all businesses, but was particularly damaging to the business of selling art.

Unfortunately, this happened in combination with the first wave of aging boomers deciding to downsize. Many are moving into smaller dwellings, while others are ridding themselves of acquired possessions. These factors alone would bring the sales of art objects to an all-time low, but add to it the annihilation of the middle class.

This is the demographic that has carried the United States economy for the past 40 years, and with its demise comes dismal art sales, mostly because consumers have been forced to shift their spending away from art purchases to pay for basic necessities. Many “middle-class individuals” are more concerned with keeping their home or putting food on the table, paying for healthcare or funding a retirement plan. All of these priorities trump buying art for the home or personal adornment.

As if all these factors combined were not enough, throw in the news media telling the nation and millions of viewers to be frugal and not to be a conspicuous consumer. We were literally told to simplify, downsize, go Green and recycle. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of taking care of the environment, but this “new frugality” has had a negative effect on our art-based businesses.

Add it all up and the picture looks bleak for selling handmade objects. Most of what we hear about artists selling their work these days is pretty negative. Yet I keep meeting and consulting with artists who are doing surprisingly well and posting increased sales, while other artists are posting business growth despite the current condition of the economy. How can it be that some are doing well while others are faltering? I have been giving this a lot of thought lately and asking artists what the secrets are for their surprising success. Here are a few of the common threads I have sewn together to help you with your own businesses:

1. Only exhibit at shows that are worthwhile
2. Refine your jury submission images
3. Make what customers want
4. Create functional products
5. Impress your customers
6. Learn from what works

For complete article visit The Crafts Report - This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of The Crafts Report.



Filed Under: The Long and Winding...Craft Road,Life of a Craft Business,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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All I want for Christmas is…

Dec 08 2011

New Sewing Machine at My LoviWhat is your #1 Christmas gift? As I get older, what I want and need are vastly different. I use to say how difficult it was to buy gifts for grandparents or even parents. I couldn’t understand what the difficulty was. I could think of lots of items I could put on my list. Now I know. As we get older, we can buy what we want, usually whenever we want. So during this holiday season, what do you “ask for”? Well, I made it more difficult for my family since I now bought myself a Husqvarna/Viking 600E sewing machine that does embroidery. I even have to have it connected to my computer. Can’t wait. Oh yeah, I am not supposed to know about it since it is from Santa. Wink wink, nod nod.  



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What you may not know about your Debit Card

Dec 01 2011

Craft Fair - My LoviAs we get into the full swing of the holiday season, one tip of advice to give you. If you are using your Debit card, run it as a credit and not use your pin. The reason is that some merchants do not clear the pins numbers in their machines and now they have your account number AND your pin. In addition, when you are attending craft shows and the vendor offers to take credit cards, make sure they are running it electronically and not using the “knuckle busters”. They now have your account number, address, and name in their files if they don’t run them electronically. They are supposed to keep your receipt secure, but let me inform you, many do not. There are a number of very low cost options for running credit cards for c rafters and small businesses. Our business uses “Square”. All the security stays with the credit card processing company. Even if you have me text or email you a receipt, I do not have access to that information. Very secure and I can offer credit card processing at a great rate.

Happy crafting. Don’t forget to buy local products. Try to minimize purchasing buy/sell items at craft shows. The craft vendor should be crafting the item, not purchasing somewhere else and reselling to consumers.



Filed Under: The Long and Winding...Craft Road,Life of a Craft Business
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Are you hip to be Square…Up?

Nov 17 2011

Square Up on My LoviYou are a small business owner or someone doing a number of craft shows a year and wants to offer credit card processing as a form or payment. In today's market, if you do not offer at least Visa and MasterCard, you are missing out on a lot of potential sales. The huge issue with offering credit is the processing fees. Small businesses have the cost of machines, monthly charges, transaction fees and processing fees just to provide that service to its customers. YUCK! I know, I did it for a year and was eating my lunch with all the fees.

I did come across the best invention since sliced bread (especially if it is a good Jewish Rye) and that is Square Up. If you have a smart phone (does not have to be too smart either, just running on Android) or an iPhone or iPad (if you can swing the iPad…. unbelievable what you can do), this is the service you need. There are no transactions fees, machines to bring, monthly charges, NOTHING. They take only 2.75% of your credit card sale (3.15% if you cannot "swipe" the card) and that is it. It does not matter how often you use it. Then you can access all your information on the web from your account. Download what you sold for the day. The beauty of this is you do not have all the "credit card slips" you need to keep secured or shred anymore. In addition, you know INSTANTLY if the credit card is good. No more going home to run them and running the risk of not a good card.

Well, do not take my word for it, check it out. It took me 10 minutes to set up and I am not that computer savvy.  Happy crafting.



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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Thanksgiving Desserts

Nov 10 2011

Apple and Pumpking Pie - My LoviWith the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, what is your "must have" dessert? For me, dessert is not complete without an apple and pumpkin pie. However, lately, I love having a New York style cheesecake. I do not care for the "fluffy" version that seems to be the rage. A true cheesecake is made in a spring form pan, making the cake dense and so creamy. Yum! This year I may add another dessert since I will have company for a number of days. Let me know what you are baking or purchasing this year and we can compare notes.



Filed Under: Piece of Cake,This and That
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Are you interested in coupons?

Oct 05 2011

My Lovi - CouponsWith the 2011 craft show season upon us, I would like to know your thoughts and/or preference about coupons. We see them everywhere, offered on many online sites, but do you really like them and use them? I have asked this question before, but thought I would bring it up again. I would like to offer a show coupon that entitles my followers on Facebook, Twitter and this website to a discount coupon to use at a show that I am exhibiting (see my event schedule). Would you use a coupon? What are your thoughts?



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What you need in a basic "Baker's Kitchen"

Sep 22 2011

Chicago Bakeware - My Lovi - Piece of Cake BlogThere is a lot of discussion about what are the basics you need in kitchen for cooking or baking. Since I tend to specialize in baking, I will discuss that aspect. The one thing I will try to emphasize is to buy the BEST quality that you can afford. This will pay you back in kind. There are many brands that you can buy a complete set for under $100. They may last you a few years, but you will begin the process again. The key is quality. Even if you have to buy one piece at a time and save up for it, it is worth it. I cannot emphasize it enough. Then if you ever make the leap into the "Home Baking" business, you already have the best quality tools and will save you lots of money. My favorite store is Williams Sonoma. I love to browse in there and pretty much have most things in there that I need, but the key is to look for a brand so it will not matter where you purchase it. I am partial to the Chicago Metallic Bakeware brand. This brand is made very well, consistent with heat distribution, very easy to clean and easy to find. I do love some professional bake lines and have their products for some of my baking pans, but for the average home baking, I would go with Chicago. If you have a choice between "non stick (dark pans)" and the more flat finish, I would recommend going with the "flat finish". Mainly because you still have to butter/flour your pans (sorry, the "non stick" doesn't release no matter what they say). In addition, you need to remember to convert the temperature and cooking time to accommodate this type of material. Typically, you will need to lower the temperature by 25 degrees and watch it for baking time.

For the basics:
Cookie Sheets
- these pans only have a lip on two sides. Don't be confused with jellyroll pans. Also, don't buy those "air" ones. They don't work as well. You will need a minimum of two cookie sheets. I prefer having four of them.
Jellyroll pans - these have about a 1" lip all around. Some people call them cookie sheets, but I have never been able to make great cookies with them. I use them for other baked goods.
Loaf Pan - (2) 9"x5"
Baking pans - (1) 9"x13"; (1) 8" square; (2) 9" round cake pans
Measuring spoons - I would only use stainless steel and 18/10 if you can get them (much stronger). Also, buy as many as you can. If you think you have enough, buy more. Most baking jobs I do, I use all four sets of mine.
Measuring cups - for dry measurements (flattop) I only recommend stainless steel. No plastic or glass. Again, you cannot have enough sets. Get at least two set of the standard measurements and one set of the odd sizes.
Measuring cups for liquid - I am very partial to glass - specifically the Pyrex brand. Again, you cannot have enough 1 cup and 2 cup sets. You really don't want plastic. Can't be cleaned well.

Well this post was long, but let me know if you have any questions about products. I have used most of them.



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Gluten-Free Pound Cake - Holiday Baking with Honey

Sep 15 2011

Honey Pound Cake: Gluten-Free - My LoviI do not claim to be an expert on gluten-free baking since the majority of my ingredients are not well suited for people on a restricted or gluten-free diet. This rich and decadent gluten-free honey pound cake that I found from my baking supply newsletter, sounds wonderful for anyone looking for a dessert that meets their dietary needs.

 

Honey gives this cake a wonderful texture and provides the perfect amount of sweetness. Pound cake is great for topping with fruit or powdered sugar, but is also delicious on its own.

 

 "There used to be a stigma that gluten-free meant sacrificing flavor and variety, but one bite of this pound cake will make it clear that the gluten-free market is rife with opportunities. Honey is the go-to ingredient because it is important in keeping products moist and flavorful, in addition to adding sweetness without overpowering the product." .

Let me know what you think of this recipe. I have enclosed the link for Xantham Gum which is carried in some Walmart stores, some larger supermarkets and probably in Whole Foods. Coutesy of Baking with Honey



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Piece of Cake - Where to Begin?

Sep 08 2011

My Lovi - Home BakingI have been baking for quite a number of years. Originally, it began baking for family and friends, now; it is more "business". Armed with a number of recipes that I have developed over the years, I baked whenever I could for people. Since no one really knew that I baked or made candy outside my of my "inner circle", I began bringing in a number of items to work (my day job). I am lucky to have a large number of coworkers who love sweets, so word of my baking would hopefully begin to spread. Since shamelessly promoting one's self is not me, I did a mix of bringing in some baked goods (great test group for new products - plus for me) for all to enjoy and then during certain holidays promote my price list to get some sales. The biggest challenge for my business is that it is difficult to compete with large box stores or supermarkets in price. Since I do everything from scratch, time is money. A number of large bakeries and supermarkets have pre-made items brought in and then they finish them off in the store or they purchase pre-made mixes to use, thus lowering their cost. Since I knew I could not compete (my prices will be higher), the plan was to focus on the quality of my ingredients and the taste of the finished product.  By promoting this aspect to customers, it was a way I felt I could separate my product from that of the large supermarket/bakery stores.   

I know some great bakers who focus on only one item such as, muffins, brownies or wedding cakes. This is wonderful, because you can begin to develop your niche in the baking market. When you know what you wish to offer, then you can figure out what equipment you need (you may have some equipment already). Join me next week as we discuss what equipment will need to begin a home baking business (for fun and/or profit).



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"Piece of Cake" Blog Begins

Sep 01 2011

My Lovi - Bridal Shower Cake PictureToday begins a new category on my blog about all things "baking" (though I will throw in some candy making). This category titled "Piece of Cake" is to share what I have learned, tips and conversations about the business of baking. There is so much to learn, especially if you are not using a commercial kitchen and chose to work in the home environment. To start with, I did a lot of research on what is required for a home business and also received TONS of information from a friend of mine, Stephanie Hedlund who owns Clara Burke Kitchen. Many months, headaches, tears later, the State of Maine did grant me my license for baking cakes, pies and confections. To begin with, you must really love to bake. If you perceive baking as a chore, pick something else to do or hire me. The first thing to think about is what type of baking do you wish to specialize. I prefer to do celebration cakes, which mostly centers on birthdays, special events, showers and some small-scale weddings (the cake picture is a recent bridal shower cake I did). The reason I chose this type of baking is that my kitchen is only so big. Remember, when you go large, you need to be able to store it and most home refrigerators do not hold a multi-tiered cake very nicely. In addition, there are only so many freezers and refrigerators I would like to have in my kitchen. Once I figured out what type of business I wanted to focus on, then I could research what licenses and permits I would need to move forward.  

Think about that and let me know what type of baking you like to do. Please join me again next week as I share some more on this journey.



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It's Show Time

Aug 25 2011

Craft PicturesI cannot believe that a year has gone by already and another craft season is upon me. So many things have happened this past year (some better than others) in our business. For one thing, we really have been working on expanding the furniture line of our business. My husband, who is a major force (really the only force) behind our furniture line, can see something and redesign it to work for today's market. I am always amazed at what he can do with a piece of wood, a vision and tools.

What I wish to share with all of my readers as we start the season of holiday and seasonal craft shows, is to be aware of how a craft or a piece of furniture is made. In today's economy, we are all feeling the pinch. Now is the time we need to search for the best value for our dollar. When you are looking at crafts and furniture during the many shows and festivals, you may think you are getting a good deal when you see an item priced low. However, if you look around you may come to another booth that is offering similar items, but at a different price. Many times the difference in price is the time and attention, that craft person dedicated to producing the best quality product they can. Many times, it is in the better quality materials and/or construction of the craft that produces a slightly higher price. Nevertheless, in the long run, most of the time, you are getting a better value in that item because it will last you.  One of my habits (may not be the best) is running my hands over furniture as I look at them. I want to feel the piece and I can tell a lot about the quality of material and the finish work. Also, look underneath a piece, open things up and see how it is constructed. If you are unsure, ask the owner of the craft booth and they should welcome the question and be willing to answer.

If you have specific questions, post them and either my husband or I will be glad to answer them. Check out some of last year's blogs titled "The Long and Winding…Craft Road". 



Filed Under: The Long and Winding...Craft Road
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Bill Gates started in his garage. You can, too.

Aug 18 2011

Oak TreeI love searching for interesting articles that could educate anyone that is in the process of, or thinking about, starting a home craft business (though I think this article could apply to many types of business). This article really gets you thinking. The author shares her many experiences and failures growing her business.  The article is from The Crafts Report, by Patrice Lewis. If you would like to read the entire article, I have posted it at the end of the article. ENJOY!

How NOT to Finance a Home Craft Business 

If you fantasize about starting your own home craft business, I’m willing to bet a lot of your dream revolves around such things as giving up the commute, being able to call your own shots, setting your own hours, and spending more time with your family.

 

Usually, a person’s dreams and plans like these come after a person looks at someone who already has an established and successful home craft business.“Look at these people! Aren’t they lucky! They don’t have to drive through the snow to get to an office! All they have to do is walk across the driveway, and they’re at work!” 

 

The trouble with this vision is that the wanna-be entrepreneur is only seeing a snapshot of the business owner’s current success, and they assume it sprang – boing! – effortlessly into being, sort of like those nifty mushrooms that grow overnight on your lawn. No preparation, no planning, just boing. 

 

Not.

 

Rather than comparing an established home craft business to those rapid mushrooms, you should compare it to an oak tree. It’s slow to get started, but sturdy and strong once it’s established. This should be the pattern for your home craft business. 

 

Boinging into Business

 

Go back to those dreams of working at home, of making your income from your own labor, of avoiding the commute, of spending more time with your family, etc. These are sweet dreams, and in no way do I want to discourage them. I just want to make you see them realistically.

 

Spurred by these wonderful fantasies, some people decide on a product to make (boing!), quit their jobs (big boing!), use their credit card to purchase the necessary raw materials and tools (boing!), pay rent on a shop space instead of using their garage (boing!), and begin production. 

 

Then comes reality. Most home craft businesses don’t start out with a bang (or a boing).They grow slowly, like those oak trees. 

 

The folks who “boing” into business are in for a nasty financial shock if things don’t go exactly as they fantasized. 

 

Start-Up Costs 

 

So, if you can’t (or shouldn’t) start a home craft business with a boing, where do you get the money to start? What about the nitty-gritty of financing a home craft business? 

 

First, I can say, from experience, don’t quit your day job. Trust me on this. Eighteen years ago, my husband and I did just that – and regretted it. 

 

Now, for the bright side. Getting the tools and raw materials for starting a home business may be easier than you think. Most people don’t just pluck a successful home craft business idea out of thin air. They start the business by expanding an existing hobby, talent, skill, or trade. That means that many times they already have the basic tools or materials or knowledge needed to make the product. 

 

Or, alternatively, think of a home craft product that is compatible with the tools you already own. Tools such as a sewing machine or a band saw are versatile and easily adaptable to any number of crafts. 

 

Do you have space on your property to run a business? If you have close neighbors, they may object to loud power tools. Do you have a shop or a garage or a spare bedroom you can devote to your business? Do you have a computer for billing and internet purposes? Are you prepared for shipping? 

 

Sacrificing for a Reason 

 

Finding the money for a start-up small business is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Like anything worth doing, it usually requires a complete philosophical change from immediate gratification to deferred rewards. 

 

So how do you raise the cash for all the tools and supplies you might need? How about for the advertising, display or show fees, raw materials, etc.? How can you do this without going into debt? 

 

You use the principles of deferred rewards.

 

Deferred Gratification 

 

Even if you’re as thrifty as can be and apply all your spare money toward funding the business, life can get in the way. 

 

When we started our home woodcraft business, our workshop consisted of a 10-foot x 10-foot chicken coop. Much of the time, shop work either spilled outside (in good weather) or into the house (in bad weather).Or, to put it another way, we frequently lived in our shop. It took five years for us to pull together enough money to build a comparatively palatial 20-foot x 20-foot shop building. 

 

The Debt Trap 

 

Coupled with the desire to work at home is the frequent wish for instant business success (boing!), which is, let’s face it, an irrational desire to have everything go perfectly from the beginning and to have your business become a rousing success without much effort. 

 

Yeah, that would be nice. I’d like to win the lottery, too. 

 

If you’re a first-time hobby-into-business entrepreneur, don’t ever, ever, ever go into debt to finance your home business. Aside from the idea that going into debt is questionable to begin with, there is the very real possibility that your business will fail in this economy, and then you’re left with the bitter regret of a failed business and heavy debt to boot. 

 

When my husband and I started our home craft business in 1993, that’s exactly what we did; we went into debt. That’s why I don’t suggest it. In our case, it took years to dig ourselves out of the debt-laden hole we dug while getting our business on its feet. Had we properly planned things, the debt (and stress) could have been avoided. 

 

Give yourself time to develop your customer base, increase the speed and efficiency in making your product, and develop your marketing knowledge. Don’t sink yourself into debt getting started because of wishful thinking or misplaced optimism. Obviously, you’ll need the raw materials and tools to make the product, but work your way up toward better items as you begin to bring in income. 

 

Reality Check

 

What are some of the things you’ve heard you’re supposed to do before starting a business? 

 

You must have a business plan. Otherwise, you will fail.

You must incorporate. Otherwise, you will fail. 

You must establish credit. Otherwise, you will fail. 

You must buy only the best (equipment, supplies, etc.), because quality and façade (how others see you) are what’s important. 

 

Must, must, must. Why must we do things this way? 

 

In part, it’s because most business advice applies to larger enterprises than a home craft business. But millions of businesses have started modestly, with used equipment, borrowed spaces, and family labor. There is no better and more satisfying thing than to start this way, because then your successes have been earned by the sweat of your brow. 

 

Dream big, start small. Don’t do the opposite. 

 

Remember: Bill Gates started in his garage. You can, too.

 

For the entire article by Patrice Lewis    http://www.craftsreport.com/component/content/article/232.html



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What Makes You Jump?

Aug 11 2011

In the world of so many ways to entice you to buy something, let alone a handcrafted item, what makes the best incentive for you to do something? Here are my three options. Let me know what works best for you or write a comment of your own.

1. Drawings - If you are a Fan on our Facebook page or comment on the website - you are put in a monthly drawing.

2. Unique savings/specials or items - offered only to our Facebook fans.

3. Website offers only.

4. So I cannot count…..all of the above.

What do you think?



Filed Under: This and That,The Long and Winding...Craft Road,Life of a Craft Business
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Debit or Credit?

Aug 04 2011

Credit Card ProcessingAs a business that is in its second season offering "credit card processing" at craft shows, I am amazed at how many "fees" there are to absorb, just to provide the convenience to my customers to close a sale. Granted, cash is "always" appreciated and preferred, but let us be real, who carries that much cash with them to buy anything more expensive than a stick of gum? Even as a consumer, I always wondered why businesses would like me to pay by debit card versus credit. Some machines just do it without you having the option.  I will continue to offer my customers a credit card option and will absorb the fees to provide great customer service. Nevertheless, in today's economy, trying to make it in a "non-essential" niche market is challenging at best.

Below is an excerpt from The Daily Finance, by Regina Lewis (7/3/11) http://goo.gl/a10oB:

According to the 2010 Federal Reserve payment study, using a debit card is now the No. 1 method for making non-cash payments. Paying with plastic -- credit and debit cards -- clearly has a price. It costs retailers roughly $2 for every $100 spent. The fees vary slight depending on which method you use which is why retailers -- given the choice -- prefer you enter your four-digit PIN rather than signing when using a debit card.

This helps explain why some in-store credit card processing machines aggressively try to get you to enter your PIN, even going so far as to make it feel like you have to opt out of the whole transaction by hitting the largest possible red button or back arrow, if you attempt to pay any other way. To that, retailers continue to look for means to avoid fees; two words are likely to remain in familiar part of the checkout process: "Hit Cancel."



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Zucchini Crafts

Jul 28 2011

Zucchini from MY LOVI garden

As you can see, my garden is slowly producing tons of this lovely vegetable (among others). These wonderful specimens were picked just last night. The funny thing is I just picked six others a few days ago. So what should I do with them? I will make some bread & butter pickles, zucchini marmalade and zucchini bread (taking orders for the bread already) using my backyard bounty, but what else should I make with them for the "long haul"?

I wish I could use them to make some unique craft. What about a purse or wallet? I could hollow out the center and attach some decorative cord. They may also make a cute clutch purse. Put a hinge on one end and start a new fashion craze. What about some zucchini slice earrings? It seems that purses and jewelry are all the rage at craft shows. Maybe Vera Bradley could use them to develop a new product line. It would make "going green" take on an entire new meaning. What do you do with your surplus of vegetables? Eat them all, bother your neighbors, family and friends to take some, toss? Post your thoughts and/or suggestions.



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What are you? Traditional, Shabby Chic or something else?

Jul 14 2011

Cottage Furniture - MY LOVIThere appears to be a shift in what people like when they decorate their homes or apartments. "Back in the day", your seating all matched. Your loveseat or chair coordinated with the sofa. Then you had to buy the matching "end tables and coffee table". Now the movement seems to be more eclectic or "Shabby Chic". Fine with me since I do not like when everything matches. Let me clarify, I am content with a room that everything does not match or coordinate. What I find interesting is the choice of colors that consumers are gravitating in home decor. Wood that has a stain finish could be paired with a lovely painted piece. Do not even get me started with mixing different periods of furniture.

Therefore, my question is, "what do you like"? Do you like a mix of stain and painted pieces? Do you like traditional colors only or are you gravitating to the cottage colors (antique whites, sage greens, pale blues, etc.). Let me know what you think. I personally love to "mix and match". It makes your room very exciting to look at.



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What's New - Nightstands?

Jun 29 2011

Night Stands by MyLovi.comIt fascinates me with the types of furniture we still feel that we need. Nightstands are one of them. In the "old days", you needed a good size one to hold your alarm clock, phone, book(s), remote(s), etc. Now it appears everything is in one device. Therefore, I wondered, would you really still have a need for a nightstand? My experience is that many people appear to be tied to the hip with their phone and it is never too far away. Nevertheless, the American public still fancies their nightstands, but I believe they are getting smaller. We had such an order for two nightstands (not just one) and personally I love the look of them (see pic). My question is, how big do you need your nightstand to be? Do you still even use one? Let me know your thoughts. What are next, no end tables?



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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How many sets do you have?

Jun 23 2011

Key Holder by My LoviIt is always interesting to learn how many sets of house keys, car keys, etc the average household possesses. I would love to know for the simple reason, how big of a key holder do I build (see picture).  In our household, we each have a key ring for each car and one extra car set for each car, riding lawnmower and pantry, attic, and doors. Therefore, for us, we would need a key holder that would hold at least eight sets of keys/key rings. Does a key holder need to hold more? Let me know what you think it should hold and you could win a discount on the purchase of one.



Filed Under: This and That,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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What is your Candy or Baked Good Desire?

Jun 02 2011

Gourmet Candy by My LoviRecently I updated this website to include a section dedicated to candy confections and baked goods. This has been a slow process, since it required more permits (in the waiting process) for the business to submit. The goal for this product line, is to open up a new local market. Our candies are currently available in one of our local retail locations, but this new venture leaves me excited and nervous at the same time.

On a personal note, I am currently planning/creating something special for a friend who has an upcoming birthday this month, but I am very curious to find out what "candy confections" or "special baked good" you crave.

Let me know what you like, or crave, and I will send one lucky person who comments on this post some chocolate.



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Topping it off...Cakes that is

May 26 2011

My last post showed the process I go through to make many of the cakes and confections that people request for their parties and celebrations. What is equally involved, is the number of traditional and unique "toppers" for these cakes that I have also completed. Some of them actually take longer than the cake itself.  The best part is that these toppers can last a very long time.

I would love to hear about some of the unique "cake toppers" you have seen or actually used. I did one for my wedding cake, but alas, I don't have a picture. Below are some of the recent tops I have done for cakes.

     



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Let Them Eat Cake!!!

May 19 2011

From time to time, I get requests to bake a cake for a special occasion. Some people provide me ample notice; and some, not so much "ample notice". So, with a cake due for my friend's wedding dinner party, what better time to break it all down, for myself and hopefully, my readers on what goes into "baking a cake". This beginning to end process took me about 5 hours (checking ingredients, reviewing my recipes and clean-up), which, for the price I charge for my cakes… I do it because I love it.

Step 1:

Getting the ingredients together and some of the appliances that I use. Use the best ingredients you can afford. I don't know what my life would be without my KitchenAid Professional Mixer.

Step 2:

I like to get all my pans prepared prior to beginning. Then I can just warm up the oven and pop them in. It is a good practice to invest in good pans. Granted, these are really expensive, but,  invest in something good. They treat you kindly if you do.

Step 3:

Getting ingredients ready. I love my All Clad pots and pans.

Step 4:

More appliances to get ingredients ready before I even mix a thing. Love my Cuisinart food processor. There are so many steps for preparing the ingredient, wet and dry.

Step 5:
After mixing everything, it is into the pans the batter goes.

Step 6:

Into the oven next. I love cooking and baking using gas. If you can use electric and be successful, you are better than me. I am not a fan of electric.

Step 7:

Out they come…well there are two other layers, but got cropped out of the picture.

Step 8:

This cake had butter cream filling and my homemade strawberry filling for all the layers, which were 6 of them. Did I tell you that this cake was only 6" diameter on the bottom and 4" on top?

Done!!!  Well, not quite……

The Dishes….UGH!!!!!

   

 



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Building Your Business - Part Two

May 11 2011

Whether you are a small “craft fair” type of entrepreneur or have a “brick and mortar” shop, there are several marketing ideas that can benefit your business. This second post in this series is about Blogging.

How funny to be talking about blogging as a business marketing idea, since this is a blog post on my company website. Marketing 101. Okay, back to this post. Blogging has become one of the most popular forms of social media! Yes, it is a form of social media, just like Facebook and Twitter. Why is it so popular? Well, it is relatively easy to set up and best of all…it is free! Blogs work as a powerful marketing tool because they are engaging and personal, or at least should be. Make sure you keep your blog updated by posting 2-3 times a week (even if it is just pictures) to keep the content fresh and your followers entertained. One popular free blog that you may want to consider using is www.wordpress.com.

Now What?
Blog about new designs you are doing, tutorials, future projects, craft fairs and shows you are attending or retailers that are now carrying your products. Some bloggers offer giveaways on their blogs to solicit participation and feedback from followers. Hummmmm….I think that is something that I should be offering my followers.

Original article from Soap Queen April 2011



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Building Your Business - Part One

May 04 2011

Whether you are a small “craft fair” type of entrepreneur or have a “brick and mortar” shop, there are several marketing ideas that can benefit your business. This first post is about Email Marketing.

Email marketing is extremely powerful, customizable, and cost effective way to target consumers interested in what you have to offer. Email marketing is one of the best ways to not only get new customers, but to also keep the ones you already have by communicating and reminding them of what you have to offer. There is a fine line between email marketing and SPAM. Be sure you adhere to all email marketing best practices.

There are some great email marketing service providers on the web that will allow you to create lists, design emails and track your sent emails. This will save you valuable time by creating emails that will get into your customer’s Inbox and don’t wind up in their SPAM folder. 

One company, www.mailchimp.com, is easy to use and is free if you only send up to 12,000 email per month. Two other services, www.constantcontact.com and www.icontact.com  do charge a fee and are great if you have a larger emailing list and plan on sending out more frequently. These two companies do offer free trials, so you can decide if this program, or any other service, provides the right program for you and your business.

Now What?
Collect all your customer’s email addresses, whether you got them at craft shows, business cards or from customers that visited your shop, and email them. Don’t forget to ask them if they would like to continue receiving emails from you with updates on products or shows you are going to be selling at.

Happy Marketing!!

Original article from Soap Queen April 2011



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The Importance of Keeping a Customer

Apr 27 2011

How do we maintain our customers? 

We all know that gaining new customers is important to a successful business. But have you thought about the importance of keeping and maintaining your current customers? Gaining customers is great…but if you’re losing customers then your new customers are simply replacing your old customers!

Implement Top Notch Customer Service – Certainly one of the fastest ways to loose a customer is to have bad customer service (or no customer service). Make sure you respond to all inquiries within 24 hours of receiving them (sooner if possible) even if it’s just a…”I’m checking into this” type of response. When it comes to customer service…the old adage of “treat others they way you want to be treated” certainly rings true.

Create a Community – Customers love to know that we are listening to them and with all of the social media tools at our finger tips it is now super easy to interact with your customers and create a sense of community. Open a Facebook account or a blog. You can ask customers what new scent they would like in a product, what new products they would like to see…really anything! They will love that you are listening to them and providing them with the products they want.

Communication is Key – How easy are you to get a hold of? How fast do you respond? I like to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours of receiving them. By creating a community using Facebook or a blog you’ve just made it even easier to communicate with your customers. You can post sales, events and other announcements immediately!

Incentives, Rewards and Gifts! – These shouldn’t just be for new customers. Nothing irritates me more than a company that “rewards” new customers but doesn’t reward regular customers! So be sure to offer new customers AND regular customers incentives and rewards. Whether it’s a discount on shipping or maybe a $5.00 off coupon on their birthday…customers love being rewarded for their continued support of your business.

Thank Your Customers – Be sure you thank your customers whether in the form of an email or even better…a hand written note in their package!

Original article from Soap Queen April 2011



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Moravian Sugar Cake - recipe

Apr 14 2011


Moravian Sugar Cake

Moravian cooks make it throughout the year but especially at Easter-time when there were many visitors on hand. It is baked in sheets in shallow baking pans.

Allow 1 cake yeast or 1 package dry granular yeast to soak a few minutes in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. To 1-cup hot unseasoned mashed potatoes, add 1 cup granulated sugar, 4 tablespoons soft butter, 1/2 cup shortening, and 1-teaspoon salt.

When lukewarm, add yeast mixture and 1-cup potato water. Set aside and allow to rise in a warm place until spongy. Add 2 beaten eggs and sufficient sifted flour to make a soft dough. Allow to rise until double in bulk.

Punch down on lightly floured board. Spread out evenly in greased flat baking pan. When "light," make holes with your fingers and fill holes with pieces of butter and brown sugar. Do not stint one bit on either. Dust with cinnamon. Bake in moderate oven, 375 degrees, for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve hot or cold.

- From North Carolina and Old Salem Cookery



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Soap Packaging - change or not?

Apr 01 2011

I know you should stick with something if it works, but a new packaging design finally became available for my soaps and wondering if I should make the switch.

This is my current packaging, which is an embossed quilted look.

 

Or should I change the soap packaging to this new design, an embossed floral pattern?  

 

Either design will complement the packaging used for our lotions and other bath products. The color in either design is the same, but because of different angles/lighting, they look different.

I will pick a winner from those who respond on what I should do. I am trying to please my loyal customers. HELP!



Filed Under: Wicked Bubbles
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Nativity Sets - How big do you go?

Mar 23 2011


It is March and I am working on a design for a nativity set for the 2011 Christmas season.  The question that plagues me…is a five piece set a sufficient basic set? Does this basic set consist of (Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, Angel and Sheppard) or do you remove the Sheppard in this collection and add the donkey instead; or (Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, Angel and Crèche)? Each year I would bring in another set to the collection, such as the Wise Men, but for a basic set, what do you think?



Filed Under: This and That,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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And the Winner is....

Mar 09 2011

I have heard from a number of our readers about what we should use to package our lotions and body butters. We were looking for something that was easy to use and a design look that would complement our soap packaging line.

Well, from all the readers that let us know their thoughts, Andrea from Maine is our winner. She will receive a gift pack of our lotion in the new packaging when it comes out later this year. Congrats to Andrea!



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Are Whoopie Pies a snack or a dessert?

Feb 16 2011

It appears that the State of Maine is focusing on what we should have for the state dessert/snack. I bake a number of confections and have been curious on what is the attraction for this dessert? I personally have sampled a number of them, and find them dry, crumbly and the filling very "greasy" and overly sweet. It appears that many bakers make the filling with Crisco and Fluff, both of which I do not care for, so that may be the source of my dislike for many of the bakeries version of the whoopie pie. I do bake them for customers, but do not make them with Crisco and Fluff. Personally, I feel the blueberry pie, with wild Maine blueberries would be much more "Maine-ish" than the Whoopie Pie. You can only get wild Maine blueberries in "MAINE" and then we will not have to argue with Pennsylvania, especially the Amish, who I do believe created it first.

What do you think?



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Don't you love old Mason Jars?

Jan 27 2011



Some of my upcoming crafts will be using mason jars. They are a wonderful surface to use for lighting, painting and filling with "stuff". But did you know.... the earliest jars were sealed with wax. The threaded mason jars were developed in 1858 by tinsmith John L. Mason. He developed a way to cut threads into a metal lid. Mason paired the threaded and gasketed lid with a matching threaded glass jar that was re-useable. If you see 1858 on a mason jar, that is the patent date, and not the date of the jar's manufacture. While most jars sell for only a few dollars, some have sold for as high as $30,000. The value of a jar is related to its age, rarity, and condition. So you never know what you might find at a yard sale. Happy hunting.



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Maple Snow Treats

Jan 11 2011

Kids are sledding, and everyone else is wondering when the snow will melt!  Great way to use fresh "WHITE" snow.
 
Maple-Snow Treats
Gather fresh snow from outside, take it inside (keep it from melting!) and boil some maple syrup.  It needs to be real maple syrup.

 
Add one tablespoon of butter and stir until melted. Keep stirring for 6-7 minutes so it doesn't boil over. (You'll know it's ready when the syrup mix starts to form hard balls when it drips off the spoon.) Remove from heat. While the syrup mixture is cooling for a few minutes, run outside and fill several plates or roasting pans with snow. Bring in and drizzle spoonfuls of the syrup mixture over the snow.
 
The result: taffy-like maple candy, just like they made in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House in the Big Woods."



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Snow Cream - A yummy treat

Dec 30 2010

This is a wonderful treat to make with all the "Feet" of snow we get in Maine. Try it and enjoy. Just remember, the snow needs to be White!!! Not yellow, brown or have any other foreign material in it.

Make this nectar in a jar, so you can make just small batches of snow cream at a time. Keep the jar out in the snow until you want another cup. Exact measurements are not important, but the measurements here will help you get started.

Start with a big (24-ounce) jar, a can of condensed milk, vanilla, sugar and a can (12-ounce) of evaporated milk or a pint of Half & Half.

Gather bowl of fluffy snow (icy snow won't do). 

Pour condensed milk into the big jar along with a can of evaporated milk or equal amount (about 1/2 cups) of Half & Half.

Add in a capful of vanilla (or more to taste).

Add a little sugar (maybe two tablespoons to start, then taste).

Put the lid on and shake, shake, shake!

Put a few scoops of snow into a bowl or cup. Pour a little of the cream at a time over fluffy snow.

Add more cream and stir until it is as thick or thin as you like it. I like mine custardy and thick enough to eat with a spoon.

Optional: Drizzle with chocolate syrup or top with strawberries, bananas or your favorite fruit for a snow cream sundae!



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Best Body Lotion Container

Dec 22 2010

As 2010 year comes to a close, I am working on repackaging the 4oz lotion container in 2011. You all have commented on how you love the packaging for my handmilled soap, so I want to offer a better dispenser for the lotion that compliments the soap packaging. Please let me know your thoughts, since you will be the ones benefiting from it.

Below are the design choices. The bottle type on the left is a treatment pump design in the following colors (clear, blue or amber with a black or white top). The other is a upside down design (Tottles) and comes clear or opaque (with a white or black cap). Your thoughts?

          



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business,Wicked Bubbles
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Learn a Craft - Never too late

Dec 16 2010

With the holidays looming upon us, I am already looking ahead to 2011. Sad…. What fun and exciting crafts can we do to occupy us during the long winter season? There are many wood, clay, sewing and painting projects that we can enjoy that are quick and easy. To help my readers, I will be looking to create some "How To" videos and offering some "in studio" classes in our Windham, Maine studio. The classes will focus on various project s (though will not be doing jewelry or scrapbooking) for various skill levels.  I may even offer a "kids program". Let me know what you would like to learn and leave a comment. Happy crafting.



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business,How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country
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Last Minute Crafting

Dec 02 2010

It is December and the company has only a few more craft shows (December 4th concluding the year). It is amazing the amount of shows that are schedule all the way up to the week before the 25th. These are referred to as "Last Minute Shopping" shows and even "Stocking Stuffer" shows. I guess if you sell furniture or home decorations, these would not be your best selling shows. Either that, some people have LARGE stockings. These shows most likely are designed for the "grab and go" or "jewelry" items, which by their nature make great stocking stuffers.

The business has done well with custom orders this year and still has a bunch to "finish up" in the next week or so. With that, how "Last Minute" are your purchases for friends, teachers or coworkers? Are handcrafted items a consideration or do you visit the large retail chains to finish your shopping? Let us know what you do at the 11th hour during this holiday season.



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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Buy Local Crafts

Nov 26 2010

Today being the day after Thanksgiving and also known as "Black Friday", many Americans are rushing out to the various box stores and malls to get "something" for less.

On the news this morning (the Today Show), they were discussing how if you buy local, 68% of each dollar you spend, stays in the local economy. In addition, if half of all working people spent $50.00 each month at a local business, it would drive almost $40 million dollars into the economy. Since most of the jobs generated in America are local businesses, it is a win win for all of us. What is a local business...it is an independent business, not part of a chain. Some major credit card companies are trying to start a movement started of "Black Friday" for big box stores, "Local Saturday" for independent merchants and "Cyber Monday" for online purchases. Buy local this year to help get this movement off the ground. What are your feelings on this???



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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Pricing your Crafts

Nov 19 2010

This has always been a very difficult task as a crafter. It is easy to figure out how much you spent on materials, it is pricing your labor. The method I use is determined on what would I pay an employee to do this task. Simple sanding or base painting is not a highly skilled task, so I would pay $10.00/hr for someone to do that for me. Any fine woodworking or creating clay figurines requires a lot more skill, so I use $20.00/hr to calculate those pieces. Then using Excel, I build a spreadsheet that adds material and labor costs. Then add a percentage for profit and overhead to determine your wholesale price. If you do not wish to offer pieces wholesale, then it is your retail cost. The worse thing a crafter can do is not charge enough for their time. Even if you are doing crafts for fun, this practice hurts many artisans that are trying to make a living with their craft and does not provide a level pricing structure.

In addition, it is a good exercise to figure out your true cost to make a piece, because as you participate in craft shows or on your website, you may be approached from a retailer about carrying your product in their store. You need to know "how low" you can go, so that you make a living and do not price yourself out of the market. Many retailers add at least a 50% mark-up or higher to the price you sell it to them to cover all of their cost of doing business. Depending upon your product, it may be too high to offer to a retailer at wholesale. Another way is to modify the product for retailers. You do not want to have the same product at a retail store vastly different in price from what you may offer online or at shows. A great resource I have found to get you started is a book by James Dillehay called "The Basic Guide to Pricing your Craftwork".



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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It's November; do I buy Holiday Crafts Now?

Nov 10 2010

Every year it seems the major retail holiday, aka Christmas, is migrating closer to the middle of the year. We now enjoy "Christmas in July" options, which were unheard of years ago. This poses some interesting challenges to crafters that are not selling "personal items". Do we go with Fall and Thanksgiving themed crafts? On the other hand, do we face the situation, bring in the holidays, and call it good?

Our company exhibited at a craft show this past weekend and I had the luxury to speak with a number of crafters about their feelings on craft shows. They have seen a shift with more people purchasing "personal" items such as bath and body products, jewelry, scarves and handbags. There seems to be less interest in home décor items. From personal experience at this show, we did well with our bath products and hand-painted/crafted ornaments, but also did manage to sell in all of our other product lines.  The question is, when do people buy home decorating items, if at all, and where? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Check out my "Christmas in July????" post http://www.mylovi.com/blog?blog_entry_id=1357



Filed Under: The Long and Winding...Craft Road,Life of a Craft Business
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Country Chest - The Price is Right

Oct 26 2010

  

Working full-time and also trying to launch a craft business is a lot of work. All crafters that are serious about building a business run into the issue of pricing their product at some point.

So...what do you think is the price of this country chest? It would be great to know what you think it should be and what you would pay for it. It is made out of beautiful pine wood (no knots), stained inside and hand painted outside with minor antiquing. Measures approximately 21"x10"x13"

Enter your comments and I will let you know who comes closest.



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business,What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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What craft show suits you?

Oct 25 2010

It has been awhile since the last post. I am back into posting and looking forward to sharing some new thoughts, ideas and crafting tidbits. Halloween is right around the corner, but so are the craft fairs and shows.

This week's post is about what is a "Juried" and "non-Juried" show. In addition, should it make a difference when you visit these shows?  

A juried craft show or fair is where the exhibitor would need to supply pictures of their craft and sometimes booth display before being considered to participate in a show. The reason many times, is that the producer of the event (even for a local school) wants to have a certain type of quality and diversity among their exhibitors. Typically, juried shows require that the exhibitor at a show is the "maker" of the product they are selling and do not allow "buy/sell" exhibitors. A buy/sell exhibitor does not make the product him or herself, but purchases items from a wholesaler or distributor and then resells it to the public at shows.  The net result of a juried show is it provides the potential attendees a wide assortment of product lines to choose from, a certain standard set by the promoter and usually can make for a successful show. 

A non-juried show is just that…not juried. Many times, the promoter (or group putting on the show) still needs to know the type of "craft" you are doing, so that they have a varied mix of products. If you are an exhibitor, many times the "jewelry" category is quickly filled and may not open until after other categories are filled in so the "mix %" is still good. Sometimes, these shows do allow buy/sell to participate as an exhibitor. 

What does this mean for you the attendee? All shows are great, whether they are juried or not. Handcrafters spend a lot of time making their products for sale. They usually cannot compete with the large chain stores, nor should they. When you buy a handcrafted item, these "one of a kind" pieces cannot be recreated in China. So go attend a local craft show and buy from these hardworking vendors making wonderful products for you or as a wonderful gift.



Filed Under: The Long and Winding...Craft Road,Life of a Craft Business
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What type of house are you?

Oct 04 2010
As we are busy creating some lighted houses, it is always good to know what styles you would like to see available. Currently, we are designing a "cape-style" house and will also be working on a church. Are there other styles, such as a saltbox or colonial design that would interest you? Or are you more interested in a theme house. A theme house would be a "candle makers" shop, or "country store". We have heard that most of our readers are interested in battery lighting (as long as they are long life) since you can put these houses anywhere, but we will have a few with electric lighting. Let us know what is your favorite style house.

Filed Under: What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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The Long and Winding…Craft Road (Part 3 - Handcrafted Furniture)

Sep 21 2010

In previous posts, I talked about understanding the value of hand painted crafts and the art of polymer clay figurines. Today would be a great time to discuss handcrafted furniture and home furnishings. My business is extremely fortunate because my husband is an excellent woodcrafter. Not to compared him with my idol (Norm Abram), but my husband makes the best small cabinets, shelves, mitten boxes, etc. He just has the knack to see a picture and can figure out the best way to recreate it.  

Lesson One - it starts with the bones, and in this case, the wood. Selecting the cheapest wood, will only give you a cheap product and a lot of heartache in constructing a project. All you have to do is visit the local craft stores and view their selection of unfinished pieces. Many are full of knots, cracks and warped in places that you cannot fix. In addition, the quality of backing materials, and hardware, is less than acceptable. Pieces made from a better grade of wood, will take a finish much better and provide you with a product that will be enjoyed for many years.  Typically, the pieces we make are constructed from a high grade of pine. There are no knots in the wood and it has a beautiful grain. If you didn't know your wood, you would swear it was a hardwood. We realize that there is a greater cost using this type of wood, but we stand behind the quality of our products.

Lesson Two, you need to look at the construction of a piece. Does the piece lay correctly, no visible gaps in the piece? Does the hinges work well; was it stapled together or was it constructed using screws, plugs, biscuits, etc.  

Lesson Three, does the finish feel nice as you run your hand over it?  Many pieces can be created to look old, either with distressing, painting techniques and construction choice.

Unless you are seeking a "true antique" (working with a reputable dealer), nothing is wrong with choosing a reproduction. Many Americans are looking to capture a country or Shaker look and you don't have to sacrifice getting a well-constructed piece or paying a lot of money. If you are looking for an antique, (I do own a few) they are wonderful finds, but we all don't have that amount of cash floating around and a reproduction is equally good (today's antiques were new at one time).  Any number of our pieces can be made to "look old" using various painting techniques (that is my job). Since our company specializes in country and Shaker designs, the finish of choice is usually paint, which is why we typically do not make many products out of a maple or oak (though we can). It is just sacrilegious to paint over those beautiful wood grains.

In closing, you never know if the piece you purchase today as a collectible (newer than 100 years) from us, will someday become tomorrow's antique (in 100 years). To learn more, contact us at info@mylovi.com or visit us at any of our upcoming events.



Filed Under: The Long and Winding...Craft Road,Life of a Craft Business
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The Long and Winding…Craft Road (Part 2 - Polymer Clay Figurines)

Sep 02 2010

Last post I talked about how to spot hand painted crafts. I did hear from a few of you that they did not know what to look for in painted items and was glad I did that post. I thought this post would address clay figurines. Many of my friends and followers do know that I make clay figurines. Mine are a bit more whimsical in design, but here is what I have learned (many times the hard way) about making clay figurines and why they are such a great buy.

There are many types of clay. I focus primarily on polymer clay with my favorite brand being Fimo (versus Sculpey). The reason I like Fimo over the more popular Sculpey brand is that it bakes harder;   isn't too soft to handle, leaving less fingerprints in the clay. Believe me, when you spend hours on a project, you do not want fingerprints showing up.

My "tools of the trade" are my hands. I do not use molds when I create any piece, which I will probably pay for in about 10-15 years with damaged hands. I do use cutters and extruders for shapes and a number of clay carving tools, but I don't put a blob of clay in a mold, press, release, bake and paint. This is where handcrafted and the "made in China" products part ways. My studio is not a factory, churning out thousands of the same thing hour by hour. On a very good day, I have been able to do four nativity sets in 6 hours. Another differentiator, handcrafted should last a lifetime if handled properly. I don't think you can say that about stuff made in China.

To understand what goes into creating a clay figurine so you understand the value you are receiving, here is my process. The hardest part when I create a new design is figuring out the order to build it. You don't want to do the body, put on the head and then…how do I stick the arms on now? Therefore, when I am creating a new design, it takes me 2-3 times longer so I can figure out the order in which to do it. The other side notes you want to remember, some colors (RED in particular) bleed everywhere. Therefore, when I am creating items that have a lot of red clay in them, I proceed with caution. I have thrown out quite a bit of white clay that brush up against the red clay and ruined the piece.  Lastly, as I build, sometimes the design needs a little hidden "bones". We call these armatures. Some designs just need them because either they are very large, dense or many parts attached to it that it could possibly break without this support. I use wire and aluminum foil. Don't ask, but works wonderfully. So when you see a handcrafted clay figurine (my figurines are about $28 each or $50 for wedding cake toppers), you are receiving a one-of-a-kind creation. 

I hope you have learned how you can easily collect fine custom art pieces that will last for years for not a lot of cash. Let me know your thoughts or questions about this or any craft topic.



Filed Under: The Long and Winding...Craft Road,Life of a Craft Business
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The Long and Winding…..Craft Road (Part 1)

Aug 26 2010

With fall approaching and many of my readers attending arts and craft shows soon, what better time to break down crafts by medium and learn what other crafters know about their trade. I always feel that an informed consumer is the best consumer. This week I will focus on hand painted crafts.

One thing I look for in a painted item (the design portion, not background), I want to feel the paint caused by brush strokes on the surface. No matter how hard I try, when I am hand painting a design on any medium, it leaves a little bit of the brush stroke behind. When I was exhibiting in a show this past spring, a person approached my booth and ran his hand over my painted items. He smiled and said to me…you painted this by hand didn't you. He said he could tell because of the brush strokes. He said he was also a painter and gave me his card. I saw his work and was very impressed. Here was yet another "decorative" painter who also looked at hand painted items the way I do. If you pick up a painted craft and it is too smooth to the touch, it probably was manufactured in some far off land like China (I don't believe they know what is Folk Art or Primitive style painting).

 Another thing to look for…picking up two pieces that is the same design. You should be able to tell that they look similar (same design), but one tree may be fatter than the other; the smile and eyes on one face is just a little different… you get the idea. I realize it can be a bit more expensive for an original painted item, but hey, it is an original! Even if the artist/crafter paints 100 of the same design, it is still an original, because they painted each one individually. This is a great way to afford art. So keep that in mind when contemplating purchasing a "hand painted item".  Stop by next week for my next segment.



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business,The Long and Winding...Craft Road
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Battery or Electric - Whatever should I do?

Aug 17 2010
As I sit in my studio with wood parts surrounding me, I cannot decide if I want to make my lighted houses and hangings with battery or electric lighting. These are small houses and shelf sitters, so I am thinking that they should be battery operated so that it does not limit the possibilities of where you can put or hang them. It always seems that the ideal spot is never near an outlet. I do have some new crafts that will have electric lighting, but wanted to offer another option. Some of the concerns I have heard in the past are about having to constantly putting batteries into the items, but even today's tea lights are good for hundreds of hours. I need to order my lighting soon and my handy woodworker (my hubby) needs to know "yesterday". Please help and let me know your preference.

Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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Up to my elbows in clay

Aug 12 2010
The summer season has been wonderful in Maine this year (compared to last year), but it is going too fast. Not because I do not want to wish away the season (I enjoy the Fall season much better), but craft shows are looming upon me. Many people when they make an item, it is usually one piece, maybe two if they wish to share with a friend or relative. In our studio, we do 100 of this, 50 of that, etc. Not that it takes the fun out of it, because each is slightly unique (we do not use molds for the clay items), but it is daunting to make so many things in time for the craft show season. Coupled with the fact that each year I like to introduce at least one new item (thinking it up and creating a prototype) and then deciding what item(s) is retired. Similar to deciding which of your children you can part with or you are not that important anymore...UGH!

Then if that was not enough to prepare for, we are introducing our Open Studio/Arts and Craft Show. This provides visitors the opportunity to meet the faces behind the business, purchase items that will not be available at shows and sign some limited quantity pieces. So now, I am up to my elbows in clay for this September 25th show. Hope you all can join us. Get on our mailing list so you can receive a 10% coupon.



Filed Under: What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts,Life of a Craft Business
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Christmas in July?????

Jul 29 2010

We have had a few inquiries about offering specials (Christmas in July) and exhibiting at arts and craft shows in July featuring some of our Christmas items (holiday items if you want to PC). Do consumers really buy these items so far in advance that it is worth featuring them in shows? I recently exhibited in a show a few weeks ago where the temperature was 96 degrees and humid outside. My mind was not on New England winters and that festive season. Nevertheless, low and behold….people were purchasing hand painted nutcrackers and natural soap for gifts from us. I did have some Fall crafts, but it was the winter holiday items that sold. What would you purchase, months out, for the holidays, that you are willing to store away and "remember" that you purchased them?



Filed Under: What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts,Life of a Craft Business
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Antiquing and distressing furniture

Jul 15 2010

Being in the business of creating reproduction furniture, there is a strong movement to create the "look of old".  I personally do like the look, but that does not mean that the piece should be in poor quality, especially when you are technically creating a "new piece".  How far do you go with the distressed look? Is it just a few worn edges or do you take hammers and nails and beat the piece up? Many antiqued pieces add multiple colors in layers to achieve this look. This process takes time in creating and we all know, time is money. However, how far should artisans take it? Currently, the home furnishings and country furniture created in our studio are not distressed, but we would like to integrate some into our product line. Do you have any bad experiences that you would like to share?  What is too much?



Filed Under: How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country
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Grungy candles and crafts

Jun 25 2010
It is amazing how expensive it is to buy grungy candles and crafts. Visiting various shops across New England, it appears to be a very hot item, but to pay $6.00 a piece for one battery operated candle, I feel is a bit much. I know, we all need to make a living, so I will clarify this comment....if the crafter is making these items themselves, then it is worth the cost. But many stores purchase these candles (even the tea/voltive style) from a distributor who has them made in China. There are some directions on how to "grung" up your candles or crafts on the web. Well worth paying for directions if you are making a lot of them. I did for the company. It will keep the price of my crafts down because I won't have to purchase these candles. What are your thoughts? Have you found interesting ways to "grung" up your crafts. Share with us all.

Filed Under: How to do Primitive/Folkart/Country
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Mitten Boxes and other interesting cabinets

Jun 18 2010

I visited my old stomping ground in New Hampshire to see what country craft stores survived the economic down turn and if any new ones sprung up. Upon stopping at our first shop, it had a lot of the country, folk art and primitive style of crafts that my husband and I love to collect. After spending some time with the owner (we were her first customer of the day), she stated that she wished she knew someone who could make her Mitten Boxes. She has so many requests for them, but no local supplier. Well, for those who know us at My Lovi, it was an opportunity for us to come to her rescue. What are Mitten Boxes you ask…well, they are a shelf that has a pull down door to store "dry" mittens and pegs to hang "wet" ones. Granted you can hang other things on these pegs, because…really…who has wet mittens now a days. This lovely owner did allow us to take a picture of one she had (which mind you, was pitiful) in her store that she was not please with and come up with something better. We went home and designed a very lovely (and useful) mitten box as the initial prototype. The goal is to paint it black (possibly distress it or not??) and show it to the shop owner in the next week or so. See sample (unpainted) below. The question remains, what other gems have consumers been looking for that they just can't find anywhere? Let me know what you think.



Filed Under: What's Moving and Shaking in Crafts
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What crafts can't you find?

May 17 2010

I am always facinated to learn what consumers purchase? It seems that each year we seem to buy the same type of items to decorate our homes? Is that because we see friends and relatives doing it, so we feel we must? I would like to provide items that people wish they could have, but don't want to spend tons of money to get them. Granted, it is very difficult for a local business woman to compete with the Wal-Mart and Christmas Tree Shops of the world...for that matter China as a country of unlimited workers. But I would like to know, what are you wanting that you can't find locally. I am in the process of designing a series of figurines that use a combination of mediums and want to debut them in September 2010 for the holiday season. What else would you like to see?



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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Are craft shows now only jewelry and hand bag shows??

Apr 27 2010

As an exhibitor and attendee to arts and craft shows, I am beginning to feel that painted furniture, ornaments and such are no longer needed or desired for the "new" craft fair attendees. It appears these new craft seekers are mostly looking for the latest necklace or cloth hand bag to buy? Some jewelry is really an art form and they charge for it (which I expect them to), but these jewelers are not exhibiting at the local high school "gym-a-cafetorium".

I am spending much of my free time to make these items (granted I don't grow the trees, I buy the lumber) and then paint it or spend hours doing a clay figurine or ornament. But this appears not to be the desired items. Am I all wet? I appreciate jewelry, but we do have stores that cater just for that line of art....maybe I should put my paintings in Springers or Days....they must be hurting for business, since everyone is peddling their wares at these shows. What do you think???



Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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How crafts help your mind and body

Apr 20 2010
It seems many people think that crafts are items that you purchase. Little do they realize that when you engage in a craft, whether it is clay, painting or sewing, you relax and become much more focused. Granted we all get a bit frustrated if a project doesn't go as well as planned, but that is the beauty of engaging in crafts. Let me know about how crafts have help you "recharge". Happy crafting.

Filed Under: Life of a Craft Business
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Dog and Pet Shampoo

Mar 19 2010
I see a lot of interest in natural dog and pet care products. How much interest is there in this type of product? Your thoughts

Filed Under: Wicked Bubbles
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Cream, lotions and soaps are they worth it?

Mar 18 2010

When I visit a lot of nice stores during my travels, I am very interested in what types of lotions and creams are available. I am amazed on what is out there, but more importantly, that they charge such a high price for something made outside of the USA. I never feel that we shouldn't get a fair price for our time and labor, but to resell something that some person made in another country that didn't make hardly anything for their effort is wrong. Buy locally or at least in the USA.



Filed Under: Wicked Bubbles
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What is your favorite scent of soap?

Jul 16 2009

Ever want a company to listen to what you want? Tell us what scent of soap and bath product you would like. My Lovi currently offers: Lavender, Vanilla Musk, Lilac, Lemon Verbena, Cucumber Melon, Patchouli Musk, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, English Rose, Gardenia and Bergmont & Violet.

If we take your suggestion, you will receive a free sample of the product as soon as it is released!



Filed Under: Wicked Bubbles
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Are handmade crafts a dying art?

Jun 17 2009

As I sit in my studio, I wonder if it is all for nothing? I spend time a lot of time putting details into each of my polymer clay figurines and then I find myself in Walmart and there is some plastic or resin object made in China for one quarter the amount that I charge. It seems that we just throw things away and never want to have something good enough to pass along to others.  It isn't that I am complaining, I do have a group of customers who appreciate purchasing items that will last a lifetime if taken cared for. Maybe that is it? We don't think of things needing to last a lifetime or passed on to someone else. I would hope not, since I see lots of people at auctions and eBay trying to find something that use to exist. I will continue to plod along and made really beautiful and fun figurines and they will become valuable in my later years.

Gabrielle Lovi

I know we are facing hard economic times, but we need to support the American made crafts movement. Why are so many people satisfied with buying low quality products from China or elsewhere? The quality isn't good, sometimes even dangerous, nor does the item last long. I can't think of anything that would be purchase that is made in China that would make it to the "antique" state. Am I wrong in thinking this way? Have we become so disposable in our thinking? What do you think?

Gabrielle Lovi

 



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